On Monday, December 17, 2018, the Midwest and Maryland provinces of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, plan to release lists of priests dating back to 1955 who were accused of sexually abusing minors. As the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church, this revelation is long overdue and is due, in part, to the tireless work of attorneys across the country – like Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima‘ own Konrad Kircher and Ryan McGraw – on behalf of survivors of priest abuse.
Since the Boston Globe Spotlight series in 2002, demand has grown for church leaders to disclose the names of priests who were accused of abuse and how they responded. For too long, these calls went unanswered. Coupled with the Pope’s recent summoning of Cardinals to the Vatican in yet another attempt to reevaluate the Church’s response to child abuse and the recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, perhaps this revelation is a sign that things are finally changing for the better.
But while the revelation of these priests is a first step, the next – and most important – question becomes whether the Jesuits will seek to hide behind the statute of limitations in defending claims brought by survivors. For too long, religious organizations have bludgeoned survivors of abuse with legal defenses like the statute of limitations and sent them off with another rejection by the institution they were raised to admire and respect rather than offering them just reconciliation and compensation for what they have been through. In Ohio, survivors must generally bring claims arising out of sexual abuse by the time they turn 30 years old. The statute of limitations, though, is an affirmative defense. What this means is that the Jesuits do not have to assert or raise it. We call on them not to.
Konrad Kircher and Ryan McGraw of Rittgers Rittgers & Nakajima have more than two decades of collective experience representing survivors of priest abuse. If you’ve been the victim of priest abuse, call them today to confidentially discuss your case.