Citing the fact that the statute of limitations had run out, the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court has dismissed two sex-abuse lawsuits involving priests from the Diocese of Rochester.
The court issued its rulings April 30, according to Paul Yesawich, an attorney representing the diocese.
In the first case, several plaintiffs asked to recover damages and to hold the diocese “vicariously liable” for the alleged actions of Robert O’Neill, a former diocesan priest. Because the alleged abuse took place between 1975 and 1986, the statute of limitations had run out, the court ruled. O’Neill retired in 2001, and Bishop Matthew H. Clark removed him from all ministry in 2002 due to allegations that he had committed sexual abuse in the past.
In the other case, a plaintiff sued the Holy See, the diocese, Bishop Clark and St. John the Evangelist Parish in Spencerport. The John Doe plaintiff sought to recover damages related to abuse allegedly committed against him by Albert Cason, a former diocesan priest removed from ministry in 1985. The abuse allegedly took place while the plaintiff served as an altar server in 1968 or 1969. The suit was dismissed for the same reason as the first suit, Yesawich said.
Diocesan spokesman Doug Mandelaro urged anyone who had ever suffered sexual abuse by a church employee to contact the diocese.
“Even though lawsuits might be extinguished by the passage of time, we encourage anyone who has ever been abused by a person in a position of trust and authority to please contact our victims’ advocates -Barbara Pedeville at 585/328-3210 or Father Robert Ring at 315/730-0882 -so that we can begin to help them achieve the healing they so very much deserve,” Mandelaro said.
— Rob Cullivan