SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) – The Illinois Supreme Court threw out a former student’s sexual abuse claims against a priest because he waited too long to sue. The ruling leaves intact a 2003 state law that allows plaintiffs 5 years to file suit after discovering emotional injures from abuse.
But the court ruled that plaintiff John Doe A was not entitled to that 5-year window because his discovery of abuse came before the law took effect.
“While the two fraud counts in plaintiff’s complaint add allegations that defendants deceived plaintiff by withholding information regarding Father Roberts’ history and their knowledge of that history, it is clear from the complaint that all of the injuries claimed by plaintiff ultimately arose from the sexual abuse he suffered rather than from defendants’ failure to properly apprise plaintiff regarding Father Roberts’ past and what they knew about it,” Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote.
“The specific injuries alleged in the fraud counts are, in fact, identical to those set forth in the other counts. … The law is well established that the limitations period governing a claim is determined by the nature of the plaintiff’s injury rather than the nature of the facts from which the claim arises.”
Doe said he was abused by priest Kenneth Roberts 25 years ago, when the two met privately to discuss Doe’s interest in joining the priesthood. Doe said he repressed the memories, and didn’t understand the impact they had on his life until he was hospitalized for depression in 1998.
The lead defendant is the Diocese of Dallas. According to the ruling: “The pleadings and supporting documents in this case indicate that when plaintiff was 14 years old, he was sexually molested by defendant Kenneth Roberts, a Catholic priest. At the time of the molestation, which took place in 1984, plaintiff was an eighth-grade student at St. Mary’s Parochial School in Belleville and Father Roberts was spending a week at the school as a guest lecturer. Among his lecture topics was sex education. Father Roberts was allowed to speak to the children on this topic notwithstanding the fact that church officials were aware that he had previously engaged in the sexual abuse of children, including a boy in Dallas, Texas.”
The St. Louis Archdiocese revoked Roberts’ permission to work as a priest in the St. Louis area in 1994, after two complaints of sexual misconduct against him.
Roberts retired in 1999.