Plaintiff: Diocese Settlement Won't Stop 'Vicious Cycle'

By Smith, Craig | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 23, 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Plaintiff: Diocese Settlement Won't Stop 'Vicious Cycle'


Smith, Craig, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Dennis McKeown is hoping for a change in state law that would allow more people who claim to have been abused by priests to have their day in court.

"Nothing can make our lives whole. It's ripped our lives apart," said McKeown, 44, who sued the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh in March of 2004. He claimed to have been abused by John Hoehl, a priest who was removed from ministry in 1988 and permanently dismissed in 2004.

McKeown and two other plaintiffs rejected a portion of a $1.25 million settlement of 32 lawsuits against the diocese to continue pursuing their cases. Instead of taking a cash award of about $40,000, he wants state lawmakers to create a window in the state's statute of limitations so their sexual abuse lawsuits can be heard.

"It's not about the money," he said. "It's the only way society will have an opportunity to find out who these men are and where they are. It's ultimately going to make one of the largest entities in the world stop this vicious cycle."

The two other plaintiffs who opted out of the settlement were not identified in court documents. Attorneys for the group of plaintiffs said their clients would not comment about the settlement.

The current statute of limitations gives alleged victims two years after their 18th birthdays to file a lawsuit. But judges are dismissing many cases because the plaintiffs filed their lawsuits as middle-aged adults, claiming abuse occurred when they were children.

McKeown, of Beaver Falls, is not alone in pushing for changes. A coalition of organizations wants the state Legislature to abolish the deadline for filing future civil lawsuits and suspend for two years the statute of limitations on cases already filed.

"If you can't bring suit, the people who did the abuse are out there, working in rec centers, schools ... because they know the statute has tolled," said John Salveson, founder and president of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse Inc., one of the groups in the coalition, dubbed PA Cares.

An organization of Catholic bishops and their dioceses opposes the effort to extend the statute of limitations. In California, the creation of a similar window resulted in the filing of 800 lawsuits, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said.

"The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference opposes legislation similar to California's because it is unworkable and unfair," said Amy Beisel, spokeswoman for the group. Beisel said the older a case is, the harder it becomes to obtain evidence and witnesses.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Plaintiff: Diocese Settlement Won't Stop 'Vicious Cycle'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?