Pennsylvania court rejects sexual abuse lawsuit

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit of a woman who accused a priest of sexually abusing her by dealing a blow to the victims of such excesses.

Miami world / AP

The decision of 5 votes in favor and 2 against puts an end to Renee Rice’s attempt to obtain compensation from the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, which she accused of covering up the abuses she said she suffered at the hands of a priest in the seventies.

Rice filed the lawsuit in 2016, but most justices found that exceeding the time limit for filing such complaints under Pennsylvania law.

Another court ruled in 2019 that there was enough evidence to let a jury decide whether Rice was prevented from learning of the alleged cover-up.

As a child, Rice was commissioned to clean the rooms of priest Charles F. Bodziak, a church organist whom she accuses of abuse. Bodziak rejects the accusations.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that the maximum period of two years to present such complaints began on the date of the last alleged abuse, which would have occurred in 1981, although it could have expired in 1987, when she reached 20 years of age. Rice did not file her lawsuit until 2016, when an investigative jury issued a report with its findings on the investigation to the diocese.

“We do not need to resolve the issue as it is clear that the time limit expired decades ago,” Justice Christine Donohue wrote on behalf of the majority.

“Deciding whether to accept lawsuits based on long-standing conduct is an exercise in boundary setting that includes difficult political decisions,” and the courts “are not empowered to make those kinds of decisions,” Donohue determined.

Rice’s attorney acknowledged that the court’s decision ends the lawsuit.

“Once a child is abused by a priest, he will have to know if he should have suspected and should have investigated whether or not the diocese was aware of such conduct, whether it had concealed it, whether it had concealed it from the parish including the plaintiff. himself ”, declared the lawyer. Alan Perer.

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