State's Highest Court Hears Arguments in Clergy Abuse Cases

Associated Press, carried on NBC3
January 4, 2006

ALBANY, N.Y. The state Court of Appeals will determine whether the dioceses of Syracuse and Brooklyn can avoid lawsuits because those alleging the abuse waited too long to seek damages.

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could force dioceses across the state to face numerous suits that were dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.

In one case argued yesterday before the court, John Zumpano said the abuse he suffered while in parochial school in Utica from 1963 to 1970 rendered him mentally incapable of bringing a suit before time ran out to do so.

In the second case, 42 people contend they were abused by 13 priests in the Brooklyn Diocese between 1960 and 1985 when they were children. They filed suit in October 2002.

While the judges appeared willing to listen to the plaintiffs, they also expressed reservations about usurping the Legislature's power to write the laws. Chief Judge Judith Kaye said it would be "a major erosion of the statute of limitations."


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