Ex-altar Boy Who Says R.I. Priest Sexually Abused Him on Trip to NYC Sues in New York
By Brian Amaral
October 6, 2020
A man who said he was sexually abused as a minor by a now-deceased North Providence priest is suing Rhode Island’s Catholic diocese — but doing it in New York, which makes it easier to sue over abuse from decades past than Rhode Island does.
Philip Edwardo, now 53, said the Rev. Philip Magaldi of St. Anthony Church took him to a Waldorf Astoria hotel room in New York City and sexually assaulted him in 1983. It was one of at least 100 instances of sexual abuse over five years, he said.
Edwardo has also sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence in the Rhode Island state courts over abuse that he said occurred here. Like Rhode Island, New York recently extended its statute of limitations to sue over sexual abuse claims. New York, though, went further than Rhode Island in doing so.
Rhode Island in 2019 created a longer deadline, giving people until 35 years after they turn 18 to file suits over childhood sexual abuse. If their claims had already run out under the old law, they could still sue their perpetrators.
Can the diocese’s leaders be held liable as “perpetrators” of abuse? Edwardo, among others, is litigating that question in state court. Edwardo argues that the misconduct of diocesan institutions and leaders was so egregious that it veered into criminal conduct, meaning they can be sued as “perpetrators” under the civil law; the diocese said it cannot.