Lawsuit against Priest Rejected

By Kevin Murphy
Kansas City Star
December 17, 2004

Reversing a recent decision, a Jackson County judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit that alleges sexual abuse by a now-retired Kansas City priest.

Circuit Judge John R. O'Malley ruled that the statute of limitations has expired on Teresa White's claim that the Rev. Francis McGlynn sexually abused her in 1973 and 1974, when she was 17.

White alleged in a lawsuit filed 14 months ago that McGlynn abused her while she was taking courses from him at an Independence church to prepare for marriage. McGlynn denied the charges.

Three weeks ago, O'Malley denied a motion by the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to dismiss the suit. Attorneys for the diocese argued that White was required to file the suit within the five-year statute of limitations after she turned 21.

White's attorney, Rebecca Randles, argued that the statute of limitations does not begin until an abused person ascertains he or she has been abused, which she said can come much later because of psychological coping mechanisms.

O'Malley reheard the motion to dismiss in light of a new ruling by the Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City. That ruling upheld the statute of limitations in a case in which a woman claimed she was sexually abused as a child.

The woman said repressed memory prevented her from realizing until years later that she had been a victim of abuse.

The facts of that case compelled dismissal of the White lawsuit, O'Malley ruled.

Randles said Thursday that she would appeal O'Malley's ruling and did not believe it would lead to dismissal of other lawsuits filed against priests who served in Kansas City.

Plaintiffs in those cases alleged sexual abuse that occurred as far back as the 1960s.

"We are disappointed, but each case stands on its own merit, and we will have to take each one up," Randles said. The facts of the White case are different from those of other cases, she said.

James Tierney, an attorney for the diocese, said he was pleased with the ruling. Tierney had said in court that White, at 17, was old enough to know if she was being abused.

Tierney said after the court hearing last month that he thought the statute of limitations might apply in some of the other cases against priests.


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