At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Chicago's Cardinal Stritch) stood over me and said, I had to "stop babbling" about what the priest did to me. It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Today, I babble.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Church claims impotence as Statutes are Creatures of Public Policy, then fights 11 entities to 1 to keep SOL's unfair as possible

By Kay Ebeling

Using teams of attorneys, eleven corporate entities of the Catholic Church are fighting a lawsuit by one family in California all the way to the state's highest court. The bishops are expending endless legal hours and Church resources to get a California appellate court decision "de-published," as letting the Quarry decision stand would open the door for dozens more legal claims against corporate entities that allow child sex crimes to take place.

In briefs quoted below, the Catholic Church argues to the high court that statutes of limitations are just "creatures of public policy that may be disappointing to plaintiffs," and "are unfair because they bar potentially valid claims," but what can you do...

At the same time, the Church uses teams of attorneys to keep statutes of limitations as unfair as possible, in California, as well as other states. The Church is able to lobby state lawmakers and file mountains of legal briefs to justices. The Church can fight changes in law that would help get settlements for crime victims of the Church, who are unable to get help by going to the Church itself. Genuine pastoral outreach to adult victims of pedophile priests appears to be totally off the Church’s agenda.

Quoted below is the latest document filed by Church lawyers in the Supreme Court of California, as we continue at City of Angels to report how the Catholic Church fights against its own parish families when it comes to the sex crimes of its priests.

The newest casualties of Church abuse of civil justice are plaintiffs who are over age 40. In California and other states, older crime victims are a small group, easy targets for dismissal by the church and its attorneys.

In California, if you did not realize by December 31, 2003, that you were part of this class of crime victims and take advantage of the one-year window that year, but instead filed a lawsuit after the end of 2003, the church wants you to be SOL on the SOL. Even if in 2003, a plaintiff did not know they were part of this class of victim, the Catholic Church will fight all the way to the state Supreme Court to keep families from getting help they need.

In Illinois, the Church fought and won a similar legal battle against older victims. The Supreme Court of Illinois ruled last October to cut off persons in the older age category from further lawsuits (thus ending the writer of this blog post's own hopes of ever getting help from the Church).

In New York victim advocates gave in to an age 52 limit on the statute of limitations last April, and they still didn't get their bill past the State Legislature’s first committee.

CORRECTION: emailed 5:10 PM

In New York the age limit is 53. The bill did get past the first committee, it was never introduced to the floor for a vote. There are enough assembly members who support the bill, but the day it was to be schedule for a vote, there was not enough members in the chamber. Assembly members called in sick, were absent or gave birth. This bill will go to a vote sooooooooooon.

Tim Echausse
SNAP Long Island


In California, The Church is fighting tooth and nail to get the state Court to depublish Quarry, a recent appellate Court decision that allowed plaintiffs who discover the cause of their injury after 2003 to file lawsuits. Not easy lawsuits to file, but ones that need to be filed, because corporate entities allowed sex abuse against children to take place.

Usually those entities that allowed molestation end up being the Catholic Church. So the Church grabs onto statutes of limitations like they were the Bible and Church attorneys argue for interpretations of civil laws that work as much as possible in the Church’s favor and against the crime victims.

SNAP quote

“It's immoral and impractical to try to force deeply wounded victims of horrific child sex crimes to meet some arbitrary deadline that's set up to benefit the wrongdoers,” wrote Barbara Dorris, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests outreach director November 4th about arbitrary statutes of limitations activity in Spokane, Washington.

“Traumatized victims step forward when they can, not when church bureaucrats and lawyers try to tell them they must,” Dorris said.


“Traumatized victims step forward when they can, not when church bureaucrats and lawyers try to tell them they must,” Dorris said.

In the Quarry case in California, we see Church attorney stalling tactics in full play as well, stretching every legal matter out for as long as possible, getting an extension, then filing the brief on the last day of the extension October 20th.

Eleven (11) corporate entities filed briefs supporting the Church’s argument concerning the Quarry case leading up to the anticipated brief quoted below from Stephen McFeely, one of those Church attorneys who jets all over the state defending sex criminals and their felonious enabling religious orders.

At the same time, there is one law firm on the plaintiffs’ side, writing in opposition to de-publication of Quarry, as far as this writer-reporter can see. Meanwhile at least one, sometimes two or three, lawfirms submit briefs asking the state supreme court to de-publish the Quarry decision, representing these 12 corporate arms of the Catholic Church:

Archbishop of Los Angeles, a corporation sole

Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, a corporation sole

Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland

Roman Catholic Bishop of Monterey a corporation sole

Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento, a corporation sole

Boy Scouts of America

Masonic Homes of California, Inc.

Sweeney & Green, LLP

Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America

United States Fire Insurance Company


American Insurance Association


No One Said the World Was Fair

If anything the age group that needs the most attention is us older folks, who managed to stay alive in spite of the side effects of pedophile priest rape. 1950s sex crimes took place when secrecy and subterfuge were the norm in handling anything that had anything to do with sex, let alone molestation of children. People just didn't talk about it, at all. Plus fifty years ago people really believed kids would just get over these experiences in time. So if anything, we older persons lived through sex crimes as children that would probably not even take place in today’s environment, where alert caretakers are watching out for pedophiles as if Nancy Grace’s cameras were everywhere. And they are. If anything it’s this older aged class of plaintiffs that need legal and pastoral care more than anyone.

But of course, if the Catholic Church can get away with ignoring us, it will ignore us, and as we see in Connecticut, New York, Spokane, Illinois and California - and that's just this month - the Church will keep hiring teams of law firms to totally weigh down the fight for justice in favor of the Church.

Your Parish Dollars at Work:

In the brief filed October 20th by Stephen McFeely for the Bishop of Oakland, an irascible tone emanates from the paragraphs:

Arguing for the Bishop of Oakland, church attorney McFeely writes that the Quarry brothers have a misunderstanding of the law, thinking “that in 2002 the Senate and Assembly must have meant, in effect, to eliminate the statute of limitations on civil child abuse claims completely.

“After all, statutes of limitation are unfair because they bar potentially valid claims. Such a facile argument apparently worked with the Quarry court - it will not be enough here.

“By their very definition, statutes of limitation limit claims. Their enforcement disappoints potential plaintiffs. But such statutes are creatures of public policy."

See what I mean.

The Church just throws up its hands in innocent powerlessness before the Justices. It’s out of our hands, the bishops claim.

“Quarry must be overruled and Hightower confirmed.”

In the original Quarry lawsuit, lead plaintiff Terry Quarry and his five brothers, ages 43 to 49, sued the Diocese of Oakland in 2006, saying they had only recently discovered that their psychological problems as adults were related to the molestation they suffered as children.

Their abuser was the Rev. Donald Broderson, who was a priest in Concord in the 1970s but was transferred to several parishes before the diocese forced him into retirement in the early 1990s

(Look up Broderson at Bishop Accountability under the letter B in the "Database of Accused Priests.)

Broderson never did get charged with a crime, but the Oakland Diocese settled several lawsuits that filed in 2003 because of claims about Broderson's molestation of children.

In a court deposition Broderson admitted he “sexually abused children in the 1970s.”

Broderson specifically admitted molesting the Quarry brothers in deposition.

In fact, California state legislators passed its amendments to 340.1 in 2002 that opened time limits for these lawsuits, because of reports of clergy abuse and the way the Catholic Church covered up the crimes. The law in California is now written specifically to deter institutions that allow molestation to take place, and the Catholic Church just ends up being the main one.

Oh well, I guess the plaintiffs are powerless too.

Hightower, as reported here and here and here at City of Angels earlier this year, is a case the state high court threw out two years ago, and refused to reconsider.

Even though Hightower is a poor example of a typical lawsuit against the Church, the Church is doing everything it can to keep Hightower the law as long as possible.

Slowing down progress on Quarry means Hightower remains law, a decision that dismissed a decades old case, favoring the Catholic Church's position.

The Plaintiff in Hightower filed his claim from prison, he missed the 2003 window by filing incorrectly, but since he’s in prison serving as his own attorney, specific laws concerning prisoners’ rights allowed Hightower’s case to go all the way to the state high court, where they said, what, there’s a thousand holes in this case, and threw Hightower out.

Because Quarry is in limbo, the Church gets to take advantage of the dismissal of Hightower to get new lawsuits dismissed.

There are two other cases that are more relevant in front of the state supreme court now and their decision in Quarry and KJ will set a more realistic precedent for future handling of sex abuse lawsuits against the church.

But since it is in the Church’s best interest to keep Hightower the law as long as possible, they are dragging out the Quarry decision before the State Supreme Court as long as they can.


What Steve McFeely Wrote for the Bishop:

Just to keep people up to date, here are quotes from the 40 page brief filed by Foley & Lardner, LLP, of Los Angeles, on October 20, 2009, the last possible date possible to file the brief, on behalf of the Bishop of Oakland.

“While the Legislature has gradually expanded and liberalized the statute for childhood sexual abuse claims, it has not lifted all limitations.

“The Legislature did not do what the brothers are effectively asking this Court to do, namely throw the door wide open - forever - to allow suits against non-perpetrators to be brought indefinitely into the future for claims reaching indefinitely into the past. That was not the Legislature’s intent.”

McFeely, attorney for the Bishop of Oakland and other Catholic religious organizations around the state who are trying to keep their pedophile priest problems secret, went on to write:

“The Plaintiffs claim the underlying legislative concern was really about avoiding an ‘arbitrary’ cutoff. ‘Arbitrary’ connotes randomness, illogicalness, and lack of deliberation."

“The statute evinces anything but arbitrariness."

The Defendants’ position is that “The revival window cured any arbitrariness.”

McFeely feels the Revival Window of 2003 took care of all the people who were older, and now the “prospective application of the discovery rule” is “For people who were younger.”


The Church wants to quickly write off persons who fit in that small space between being too old to file under the new rules, and having missed the 2003 window. Even if in 2003, the plaintiffs had not yet begun to deal with the repercussions of being raped as a kid by a priest.

The Catholic Church just shrugs and says, too bad about all these crimes we let happen, if the law doesn't say we have to help the victims, we won't.

What a Christian organization.


I totally understand years of delay between discovering the cause of your problems and filing a lawsuit. I sat with my mouth hanging open for about ten years before I could take any action, then when I called the Chicago Archdiocese, they said, Get an attorney. By the time I got one, they proceeded with the State Court decision referred to above.

After I made the connection in 1994, it was only in about 2006 or 2007 that my position in this mess of pedophile Catholic priests became clear to me. Way too late to take advantage of the statute of limitations laws in Illinois, the state where crimes in my case took place.

Forget pastoral outreach. When I contacted the Chicago Archdiocese in 2005 saying, I realize now I need help, they told me to get a lawyer.


The following are quotes from the Quarry brothers brief filed April 15, 2009, for the plaintiffs.

By Devin Storey and Michael Kinslow at the Zalkin Group law firm in San Diego.

“Plaintiffs are six brothers who were repeatedly sexually abused by a trusted Catholic priest. The abuse took place in 1972 and 1973, but due to the nature of the abuse and psychological coping mechanisms resulting there from, Plaintiffs did not discover that the abuse resulted in adult-onset injuries until 2006.

“The trial court sustained the defendant’s demurrer on statute of limitations grounds, and the Court of Appeal reversed.”

Plaintiffs say that amendments to 340.1, the California law on Statutes of Limitations in child sex crimes, “extended the statute’s reach to non perpetrator defendants, and applies to all claims filed after January 1, 1999."

Plaintiffs say, the SOL does not begin to run until the plaintiff discovers the cause of his or her adulthood trauma.

The Quarry cases were filed in 2006, after the brothers compared notes and discovered they were all victims of the same crime. How could they have been included in the 2003 window?

The lawsuit has to reflect “the statue in effect at the time of the filing of the action.”

Oh shoot, I'm having trouble keeping this straight. The Court of Appeal reversed another court decision that used to be in favor of the plaintiffs but now was in favor of the Bishop so now the Church is trying to de-publish that decision. If Quarry stays, California plaintiffs have new doors open to them to seek justice.

If Quarry is de-published- There is still the case of KJ.

Oh No!

Can’t we all just rant and rave about Roman Polanski? That's so much easier.


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