Catholic Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit Filed In Louisiana After State Suspends Statute of Limitation For Previously Expired Claims
A number of individuals are now pursuing child sex abuse lawsuit throughout the State of Louisiana, after a recently passed law opened a temporary “window” in the statute of limitations, which allows previously time-barred claims to be made against the Catholic Church and other entities responsible for abuse that may have occurred decades ago.
One of the more recent complaints was filed this week in East Baton Rouge Parish District Court, presenting claims against the Diocese of Baton Rouge over alleged abuse by the late late priest John Anthony Weber, who worked with the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the Archdiocese of New Orleans before his death in 2000.
The plaintiff filed the lawsuit under the name John Doe to protect his identity and privacy, indicating that he was sexually abused by Weber between 1975 and 1976, when he was around 13 years old at the former St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, which closed in 2003. It is at least the third separate claim filed involving allegations that the assailant as Weber, who was on a list of credibly accused clergy that was released by the Diocese in 2019, following decades of alleged attempts to cover up the allegations.
The lawsuit is the first filed against the Diocese of Baton Rouge since a new Louisiana law was passed in June, which eliminates the deadline for sex abuse victims to seek damages, allowing anyone under 28 to file a civil suit over child sexual abuse allegations, regardless of when the incident happened. The law also established a three-year window during which any unresolved claims could be filed, no matter when the incidents allegedly occurred. That window will remain open until 2024.
Louisiana is the latest state to extend the child sex abuse statute of limitations, but similar legislation has been passed or introduced in a number of states nationwide. Other states which have passed similar legislation include New York, New Jersey, California and others since August 2019. New York was the first to put such measures in place and received more than 10,000 claims before the window for filing on previously expired cases closed last year.
As child sex abuse lawyers continue to review and file claims over the coming months, the number of lawsuits filed nationwide is expected to increase, particularly in those states where “windows” in the statute of limitation have been opened for adult survivors to step forward and hold their abuse and the institutions that enabled the conduct accountable.
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