With all the media attention given to the Penn State and Syracuse scandals, more victims are finding coverage to come forward even long after the incident. The victims of came forward to not only expose the perpetrator, but also highlight the shortcomings of time limits associated with the statute of limitations. Currently under Connecticut law, any person who claims damages as a result of being sexually abused, sexually assaulted, or sexually exploited as a child has until 30 years past the age of majority (typically until age 48) in which to file a claim in court. Below is the news story. A veteran sportswriter and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News was accused in a newspaper report Tuesday of molesting three girls and a boy in the 1970s, including his niece, who is now a prosecutor.
Nearly every woman I know can recall one or more instances in which she was sexually assaulted, harassed, threatened, inappropriately touched or even raped. Yet few told anyone about it at the time, or reported it to the police. I have clear memories of three such episodes from my childhood, one of which involved a man who owned a store in my neighborhood. Not knowing at age 11 anything about reproduction (in 1952, expectant teachers had to take leave when they "showed"), I was terrified that I could become pregnant from having been forced to touch his penis. I had trouble sleeping, and I avoided the block where the store was. Yet, fearing that the assault was somehow my fault, I said nothing to my parents. Experts on sexual assault and rape report that even today, despite improvements in early sex education and widespread publicity about sexual assaults, the overwhelming majority of both felony and misdemeanor cases never come to public or legal attention.
When details of sexual abuse allegations against two prominent college assistants -- Penn State's Jerry Sandusky and Syracuse's Bernie Fine -- became public last month, the news hit sports like a thunderbolt. But sports as an environment for sexual abuse is hardly new. Experts say it has all the significant ingredients that can lead to such abuse: coaches have close relationships with children and unsupervised access to them, while holding a position of trust and authority that can often keep children from reporting the problems to their parents or other authority figures.
For almost two decades, lawyers at the Bridgeport firm of Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney have taken seriously the complaints of child sexual abuse plaintiffs. The firm took on the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport and Hartford's St. Francis Hospital, winning millions in damages. Now, the details of a long-running grand jury investigation have rocked Penn State University with a stunning child sexual abuse scandal. Public opinion and awareness has markedly changed since the late Paul Tremont, a founding partner, filed his first suits against pedophile priests in 1993. "It was a very unwelcoming climate for these kinds of cases," says partner Cynthia Robinson, who has focused her practice on child sexual abuse cases.
As the Penn State sexual assault scandal continues to unfold, the story takes place against a media and legal backdrop that has evolved considerably in light of previous sex abuse cases. Plaintiffs attorneys and legal experts who have worked with victims of sexual abuse note the sea change in the way such cases have been covered and litigated. And the changes in how the media and the public discuss these topics have had a significant impact on how judges and juries think and act. "Thirty years ago if you brought a case against a revered institution"--be it Penn State, the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts, says trial attorney Raymond Boucher--"the jury would look at you with a jaundiced eye." Over the past three decades, the media, too, have become less jaundiced, says Boucher, a partner at Kiesel Boucher & Larson and the lead attorney for plaintiffs who brought clergy sexual abuse claims against the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles--which garnered one of the largest settlements of its kind with the church in 2007. Cindy Robinson's Connecticut firm, Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney, was among the first to start litigating clergy
By James E. Connell, JOurnal Sentinel Oct. 24, 2011 An excellent opportunity exists for the Catholic bishops in the United States to begin rebuilding the people's trust in them that has been severely damaged because of the Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis. This opportunity is found in the audit process to verify that each diocese actually is in compliance with the requirements of the charter that was originally established by the bishops in 2002 to enhance the protection of children from sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Remember, whether committed by force or by seduction, every act of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest is a crime, both in civil law and in church law. So in discussing sexual abuse of minors by priests, we are not talking about the actions of schoolyard bullies. We are talking about the actions of criminals. This must be the starting point for addressing this crisis and scandal in the church. Therefore, the audit process is a critical component in the church's effort to protect children and young people. Here are six concrete steps to improve the audit process to verify that each diocese in the United States actually complies with the charter.
Catholic Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City has just been indicted for failure to report suspected child abuse. The offender, one of his priests, apparently was a photographer of some considerable energy. According to the indictment, as reported by the New York Times, the bishop for some six months failed to report evidence found on the priest's laptop, and thus he is charged with ignoring "previous knowledge regarding Father Rattigan and children; the discovery of hundreds of photographs of children on Father Rattigan's laptop, including a child's naked vagina, upskirt images and images focused on the crotch; and violations of restrictions placed on Father Rattigan." Apparently during the six months, the priest went to children's parties, hosted an Easter egg hunt and presided -- with the bishop's permission -- at the first communion of a young girl. The bishop is fighting back. "We will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defense." No one is guilty until judged by their peers, but one gathers that the facts of the matter are not really in dispute. The question is whether the bishop is legally liable. Apparently a police officer was told about one of the pictures and opined that (even though the kid was naked from the waist down) he did not think that it would meet the definition of child pornography and that was that for six months. In a way, this sort of thing has become so common that one is almost inclined to read with a sigh and turn away to other things. Which of course is precisely the action we must not have. Wickedness never ends and we must be ever vigilant. Edmund Burke was right: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Thank goodness the legal authorities in Kansas City are doing their duty and making sure that whatever has happened it is brought into the light and the guilty punished. And even if the guilty are not necessarily found legally culpable, then they are still shown to be morally guilty and deserving of condemnation. And thank goodness the legal authorities are recognizing that those in charge have responsibility, especially if through their actions they allow bad states of fares to persist.
New York Times, by A.G. Sulzberger and Laurie Goodstein
Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney Announces Website Resource for Dr. George Reardon of St. Francis Hospital Cases
Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney Announces dedicated website resource for Dr. George Reardon of St. Francis Hospital Cases. This Resource provides not only a summary of the $2.75 million jury award in the Tim Doe case, but also news articles and video related to the case and sexual abuse resources for victims. The webpage will be continually updated with the latest Reardon Case news. The web page can be found at: http://www.tremontsheldon.com/Sexual-Abuse/ Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney have been leaders in the advocacy of childhood sexual abuse victims. To date, Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney has represented well over 100 victims of childhood sexual abuse against area dioceses and many more against other insitutions including schools. Many of the resolutions to these claims have been confidential. Some of the public resolutions included the following: In March of 2001, Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney reaches a confidential global settlement with the Diocese of Bridgeport and its predecessor bishop, Cardinal Edward Egan. In October of 2003, Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney reaches a 21 million dollar global settlement with the Diocese of Bridgeport on behalf of another group of victims. In October of 2005, Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney reaches its first global settlement with the Archdiocese of Hartford. This is a 22 million dollar settlement where Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney represents 15 of the 43 victims.
How a scandal in Philadelphia exposed documents that reveal a high-level conspiracy to cover up decades of sexual abuse
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, the former Archbishop of Philadelphia, was involved in the cover-up of multiple incidents of sexual abuse. The five co-defendants sit close enough to shake hands in the Philadelphia courtroom, but they never once acknowledge one another. Father James Brennan, a 47-year-old priest accused of raping a 14-year-old boy, looks sad and stooped in a navy sweater, unshaven and sniffling. Edward Avery, a defrocked priest in his sixties, wears an unsettlingly pleasant expression on his face, as though he's mentally very far away. He and two other defendants - the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, also in his sixties, and Bernard Shero, a former Catholic schoolteacher in his forties - are accused of passing around "Billy," a fifth-grade altar boy. According to the charges, the three men raped and sodomized the 10-year-old, sometimes making him perform stripteases or getting him drunk on sacramental wine after Mass.