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Man Sues Church for Abuse Suffered as Minor

Court rules that the statute of limitations bars him from suing.

Key point. The first amendment guaranty of religious freedom does not necessarily prevent the civil courts from resolving lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct by clergy.
Key point. Minors who are sexually molested by church workers may not sue their church after the statute of limitations has expired. Generally, the statute of limitations begins to run on a minor's 18th birthday. In some states the statute of limitations does not begin to run until an adult survivor of child sexual molestation "discovers" that he or she has experienced physical or emotional suffering as a result of the molestation. Other states do not recognize this so-called "discovery rule."

A Florida court ruled that a 27-year-old man who had been molested by a priest when he was a minor was barred by the statute of limitations from suing his church. A priest committed improper acts with an altar boy starting ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • May 1, 1997

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