In 2004, I filed – and successfully won, a lawsuit against the Vatican, designed to overcome its arguments that it could not be held accountable for acts by pedophile priests occurring on US. soil. This was done following the litigation and settlement of a case with the Archdiocese of Louisville, KY. Because of our work, the Vatican is not immune from suits by US survivors of priest sexual abuse of children. But the Louisville Courier Journal’s stunning revelation this past week of yet another situation demonstrates that the Church continues to hide and protect its known serial pedophiles over the interests of the children of the Church.
Rather than having the interests of the children of the Church at heart, it appears that the children remain at grave risk. The LCJ’s article reveals the Church’s suggestion that there are “no child-victims coming forward to accuse Father Mouser of sexual assault while he was hiding in Motherhouse in Loretto, Kentucky.” This ignores the science behind abuse. Children don’t come forward. It is found that 73% of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year. 45% of victims do not tell anyone for at least 5 years. (Smith et al., 2000; Broman-Fulks et al., 2007) It is not for decades that children have grown to see the impact the abuse has had on their lives that they feel compelled to report the abuse. In the article, I am quoted as saying “After all of the ensuing years since the settlement with the archdiocese, it is heartbreaking that the church leaders continue to demonstrate that they have not lived up to their promises to protect the community’s children from known serial pedophiles.”
I have been an advocate for victims of sexual abuse by the Church since the first victim walked through my office in 2002. I will continue to advocate, vindicate and fight for those who have been left behind by the Church. With that said, it is important to realize that the statute of limitations on a civil claim against the Church runs out on the child’s 28th birthday, barring justice forever.