Ruling Could Reinstate Lawsuits against Peoria's Catholic Diocese

By Edith Brady-Lunny
January 20, 2009

OTTAWA &madsh; A ruling by the 3rd District Appellate Court could reinstate at least 10 lawsuits filed against the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and several priests by victims of alleged sexual abuse.

The opinion from the court in Ottawa reverses a June 2007 ruling by a Peoria County court that dismissed lawsuits on the grounds that victims waited too long to level the abuse charges.

Springfield attorney Fred Nessler, the attorney who represents the accusers in the lawsuits, said Monday that "obviously we are pleased with the 3rd District Court's ruling in that the court's opinion very closely followed the plaintiff's position."

Calls for comment were not returned from the Peoria Diocese. It's officers were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Among the priests named in the lawsuits is former Lincoln Monsignor Norman Goodman and former Lincoln priest Louis Condon.

Goodman, who now lives in Pekin, was removed from the priesthood in 2002 because of numerous allegations of sexual abuse. Condon, of Moline, was removed several years ago for reasons not related to sexual abuse, the diocese previously said.

The alleged victims filed their civil actions in April 2006 after each of them was older than 30 years old. Lawyers for the diocese and priests contend the deadline for filing the lawsuits had expired according to state law.

A change in the law extended the filing period for abuse allegations.

Nessler argued it was lawmakers' intention to allow alleged victims more time to recognize possible abuse and hold their accusers accountable.

The appellate court agreed, saying in its Jan. 9 ruling that "the Legislature has determined that it previously failed to recognize that allegations of this type are subject to repressed memories and may require significant time before a plaintiff brings a cause of action."

Nessler said four additional pending lawsuits also may be covered under the court's ruling.

In its early stages is a civil lawsuit filed against former Normal Monsignor Thomas Maloney by a 20-year-old Michigan man who attended Epiphany Grade School as a child. Maloney is accused of molesting the child at Epiphany Church.

Since 1998, many of the more than 30 lawsuits filed against the diocese, several of its priests and one nun have been settled.


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