On December 6, AL.com reported that “the Archdiocese of Mobile released Thursday 29 names of Catholic priests, deacons and brothers who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a child since 1950.” Of these 29 men, 17 are deceased, and 12 others are prohibited from ministry. The Catholic dioceses in Birmingham, Biloxi, and Jackson, Mississippi are expected to also release lists of accused clergy in the near future.
This report comes just three months after the New York Times reported that the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child abuse by more than 300 priests over 70 years. The report identified more than 1,000 victims, and stated that there were likely thousands more victims whose records were lost or who were too afraid to come forward. This grand jury investigation is unlikely to lead to many civil or criminal charges, as the statute of limitations has run.
In response to the reports of child sex abuse in Boston in 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) adopted the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which recommends immediately removed accused priests from the ministry. The USCCB date indicates that 5.8% of priests from 1950-2016 nationwide have been accused of abuse. Additionally, the Archdiocese of Mobile reported having 126 priests in its 2017 annual report. The Mobile County District Attorney has encouraged all victims of abuse to report it to local law enforcement agencies regardless of when it took place.
The statute of limitations for civil sexual abuse cases in Alabama is as follows:
- Two years from the event in adult sexual abuse cases
- Two years from the victim’s 19thbirthday in childhood sexual abuse cases
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual misconduct from a member of an Alabama Catholic Diocese or any other organization, please contact the attorneys at Montgomery & Ponder, LLC at (205) 377-5004.