Catholic Dioceses See Litigation Uptick in Wake of Grand Jury Sex-Abuse Report

Legal Intelligencer

December 3, 2018

By Max Mitchell

A wave of lawsuits against Catholic dioceses has gained momentum in Pennsylvania courts and beyond in the wake of the explosive grand jury report on sexual abuse, and the state Senate’s failure to create a window for survivors in the statute of limitations has not held it back.

The legislative effort, which had been mounted in the wake of a groundbreaking grand jury report outlining more than 70 years of abuse at numerous Catholic dioceses across the state, had garnered bipartisan support, and many survivors said they were hopeful that, after several failed attempts to open a litigation window for survivors, they would finally have their day in court. But the measure was bottled up in the state Senate.

The tide of litigation was not stemmed, however.

In the past few weeks, a dozen suits have been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, 20 suits were filed against a Connecticut diocese, two class action suits were filed in federal court against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and many other individual actions have been filed against dioceses in Pennsylvania and across the country. The suburban Philadelphia law firm Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin even set up a team of lawyers to focus on representing alleged victims.

Several attorneys who spoke with The Legal said they are seeing a renewed interest in sex abuse claims. The interest, they said, is fueled in large part by the grand jury report, as well as changing attitudes toward victims and newly uncovered evidence that might provide a broader basis for claims to circumvent the statute of limitations.

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