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Judge allows two clergy abuse suits

September 23, 2009|Victoria Kim

Two active-duty servicemen who allege childhood sexual abuse by clergy can sue the Catholic Church despite the statute of limitations because of a federal law that stops the clock from ticking during periods of military service, a judge ruled Tuesday.

The men, an Air Force pilot and a Marine identified in court papers as "John T.H. Roe" and "John Roe 67," were serving in the military during the one-year window opened in 2003 allowing clergy sex abuse lawsuits to be filed decades after the alleged abuse.

In a hearing Tuesday, an archdiocese attorney argued that the law should not apply in the case of these men because the California legislation that opened the window would override federal law.

Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias disagreed, ruling that the lawsuits could go forward under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which states that the period of service may not be included in calculating statutes of limitation.

-- Victoria Kim

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