SCOTN Agrees to Hear Appeal in Priest Abuse Case

By Bill Dries
Daily News
December 13, 2010

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear an appeal of a civil case alleging child sexual abuse 30 years ago by the late Memphis Catholic priest Milton Guthrie.

Norman Redwing filed suit in Shelby County Circuit Court in 2005 against the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, alleging the diocese knew or should have known Guthrie was a danger to children.

Guthrie was never accused of criminal wrongdoing and had been dead several years when the lawsuit was filed.

The high court will hear arguments in its April term on the Tennessee Appeals Court ruling in February that dismissed Redwing's lawsuit because Redwing waited too long to inquire about any allegations of abuse against Guthrie.

Circuit Court Judge D'Army Bailey refused to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the statute of limitations had run.

The diocese appealed and the appeals court in June affirmed the defense argument that Redwing had a year after he turned 18 years old to ask the diocese if there were any other allegations. The same conclusion has led to the dismissal of several other similar suits alleging child sexual abuse by Memphis priests.

But the appeals court ruling in the Redwing case came with a strong dissent from Judge Holly M. Kirby of Memphis who termed the dismissal "premature."

"Even if Mr. Redwing had filed a lawsuit against the priest when he reached majority, there is a substantial possibility that he would not have discovered that he had a claim of negligent supervision against the diocese," she wrote.


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