Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Courts rule that First Amendment does not bar clerical abuse suits

Catholic World News - August 22, 2013

In separate decisions, a federal district judge and a Connecticut court have rejected dioceses’ arguments that the First Amendment bars lawsuits against clerical sexual abuse, according to the Religion Clause blog.

Rejecting a motion by the Diocese of Yakima, the federal judge ruled that “the Free Exercise Clause does not bar a negligence claim against Defendants for hiring [Deacon Aaron] Ramirez and placing him in a position of trust and authority from which he was able to sexually abuse Plaintiff.”

According to the BishopAccountability.org database, the deacon fled to Mexico after being accused of raping a 17-year-old male in 1999. Blessed John Paul II subsequently laicized the deacon, and he became an Episcopal priest.

In the other case, “a Connecticut trial court rejected the contention of a Catholic diocese that the First Amendment and the ministerial exception doctrine preclude civil courts from deciding claims against religious institutions growing out of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy,” according to the blog.

Additional sources for this story
Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Savonarola - Aug. 22, 2013 6:36 PM ET USA

    The absurd argument posed by these dioceses is yet another embarassment for the Church in America. Lawyers, with no sense of what the Church is about, are apparently continuing to tell cowering bishops how to mount pathetic defenses in these cases. The abuse-and-coverup crisis is NOT over.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Aug. 22, 2013 3:12 PM ET USA

    What an outrage! That anybody would CLAIM that the First Amendment protects child abusers---or their enablers!

Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Spiritual riches and poverty 9 hours ago
Vibrant Catholicism, 1: Lamenting the entire 20th century 15 hours ago
Holding bishops accountable: the next steps May 27
The real story behind the French ambassador's nomination to the Holy See May 27
A joyful noise unto the Lord: Goal met! May 26

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days