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Chaput on abuse suits

Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, interviewed in Our Sunday Visitor, is outspokenly critical of the trend toward retroactively reopening statutes of limitations so as to facilitate sex-abuse litigation against churches and church schools. He also makes a couple of other interesting points about the litigation, in particular its tendency not to be directed at the government-school sector:

In almost every state, public officials use a combination of governmental immunity, very brief reporting timeframes and very low financial damage caps to make it difficult for anyone to sue public institutions � including public schools. Religious and private institutions enjoy no such lop-sided protections....

In Colorado, under current (February 2006) law, a parent whose child is sexually abused in a public school is barred from suing the school because of governmental immunity. Even if a public school waived its immunity, which is unlikely, the child would have only 180 days to provide formal notice of a claim against the school. And even then, the maximum damages the child could recover are only $150,000.

For the identical sexual abuse in a Catholic parish, there is no immunity, no notice requirement, no $150,000 damage cap, and a much longer statute of limitations. This is why the litigation industry � and that's exactly what it has become; a very lucrative revenue-producing industry � targets private institutions and ignores the public sector. There's no money in suing public schools.

More on the abuse litigation here, here, here, here, here and here.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.