fbpx

Holy See and Childhood Sexual Abuse New York Class Action

This class action brings suit against the Holy See in Vatican City for a policy of secrecy and concealment in regard to child sexual abuse by clergy. The refusal to face and deal with sexual abuse, the complaint says, led to the development and continuation of such abuse “as a pervasive and systemic problem in the Catholic Church, in which perpetrators were protected and victims were silenced.”

The Holy See, the complaint says, is an “agency or instrumentality” of the Vatican City State, a sovereign territory in Rome. The Pope controls the Holy See, and the Roman Catholic Church, in a top-down manner. He appoints bishops and archbishops and can also remove them.

The practice of sexual abuse of children, the complaint claims, has always been a problem in the Catholic Church, with the first “formal legislations” on the subject issued in the year 309.

The Holy See, the complaint says, “has ultimate authority in the investigation and response to allegations of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests.” In recent centuries, it has issued instructions to bishops “requiring strict secrecy and perpetual silence” about allegations of child sexual abuse. These conflicted with laws and legal duties requiring that such sexual abuse be reported to law enforcement.

The secrecy requirements were abolished by the Holy See only in 2019.

The complaint alleges that the Holy See was aware that “a highly significant number of priests were engaging in sexual misconduct with children. The priests who were serial child sex abusers … represent a phenomenon that was well known to the Holy See. These priest-perpetrators were enabled and emboldened by the mandatory secrecy policy…”

The plaintiffs in this case, both male and female, claim to have been sexually abused by priests between the 1960s and 1980s. All the priests either were on their diocese’s list of priests against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse had been made and/or had multiple such allegations against them.

In 2019, New York enacted a Child Victims Act that permitted cases to be brought for a limited time even though the statute of limitations had expired. A number of dioceses also set up Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs (IRCP), but the complaint alleges that their main concern has been to obtain releases from the victims preventing them from taking their claims to court.

The complaint claims that the victims settling with these programs “received only a small fraction of the damages to which they would have been entitled in a court of law.” It claims that the releases do not release the Holy See from its responsibilities.

The class for this action is victims-survivors of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic clergy serving in New York, in the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn, Rockville Centre, Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Ogdensburg, whose claims fall within the scope of the New York Child Victims Act. IRCP and non-IRCP Subclasses have been defined for those who did or did not participate in IRCP programs.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Sexual Abuse

Most Recent Case Event

Holy See and Childhood Sexual Abuse New York Complaint

August 13, 2021

This class action brings suit against the Holy See in Vatican City for a policy of secrecy and concealment in regard to child sexual abuse by clergy. The refusal to face and deal with sexual abuse, the complaint says, led to the development and continuation of such abuse “as a pervasive and systemic problem in the Catholic Church, in which perpetrators were protected and victims were silenced.”

Holy See and Childhood Sexual Abuse New York Complaint

Case Event History

Holy See and Childhood Sexual Abuse New York Complaint

August 13, 2021

This class action brings suit against the Holy See in Vatican City for a policy of secrecy and concealment in regard to child sexual abuse by clergy. The refusal to face and deal with sexual abuse, the complaint says, led to the development and continuation of such abuse “as a pervasive and systemic problem in the Catholic Church, in which perpetrators were protected and victims were silenced.”

Holy See and Childhood Sexual Abuse New York Complaint
Tags: Negligence, Negligence Leading to Crime, Religious Organizations, Sexual Abuse