R.I. Judge Hears Arguments over Whether Catholic Church Leaders Can Be Sued As ‘perpetrators’ of Sexual Abuse

By Brian Amaral
Providence Journal
October 3, 2020

When Rhode Island lawmakers in 2019 extended the deadline to file lawsuits over childhood sexual abuse, they said victims could sue even if the clock had already run out under the old law — so long as the victims were suing a “perpetrator.”

What is a perpetrator? A state Superior Court judge on Wednesday heard more than an hour of arguments on that issue from three victims of clergy abuse who say the leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Providence could be considered “perpetrators” under the new law even if they didn’t physically carry out the abuse — and from the diocese, which said they cannot.

“The General Assembly does not want the court to go down the rabbit hole that’s laid out in page after page of the plaintiffs’ brief,” Howard Merten, an attorney for the diocese’s leaders, told Superior Court Judge Netti C. Vogel in a remote hearing broadcast live on YouTube.








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