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A recently filed lawsuit accuses a North Carolina Catholic priest, who has already served a prison sentence and was defrocked for previous sex crimes, of sexually assaulted a young altar boy on church grounds.
The complaint was filed on behalf of a young man who is now in his 20s, presenting claims against the former Catholic priest Robert Yurgel, the Charlotte Diocese, and the Capuchin Franciscan Friars.
From July 1997 through October 1999, when the plaintiff was between the ages of five and seven years old, he indicates he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Yurgel, who has faced similar credible claims from other young members of the church.
Yurgel served about eight years in prison, and was defrocked by the church for sexually abusing an altar boy named Robby Price in 1999. However, the church indicates it only became aware of these new, additional complaints, at the beginning of the year.
The latest charges claim Yurgel told the plaintiff he was sexually abusing him as part of his confessional repentance.
The plaintiff was able to bring these new charges so many years later due to a law put into place in North Carolina in November 2019, called the SAFE Child Act, which opened a “window” in the statute of limitations for claims to be presented that would have previously been time-barred.
Following years of abuse and cover ups by the Catholic Church, the new law extended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits in North Carolina to the age of 28, and also gives the state additional time to file criminal charges.
Similar laws have extended the sexual abuse statute of limitations in other states, including New York, North Carolina, California and other jurisdictions. In addition, a number of state legislators are considering similar laws that allow victims of childhood abuse additional time to step forward with claims against entities responsible for facilitating the abuse, or failing to take steps that could have prevented it.