By Kyle Cooper
A new lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Washington claims sex abuse against children in Maryland has been taking place for decades.
The filing of the lawsuit comes a day after a new Maryland law kicked in, lifting the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims. The Archdiocese of Baltimore filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on Friday, ahead of the new law taking effect.
Earlier this year, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General released a 400-plus page report detailing years of detailing years of “horrendous” abuse by the clergy in the Baltimore Archdiocese.
In the case against the Archdiocese of Washington, attorney Jonathan Schochor is representing three people who he said were looking for justice — to be “vindicated and compensated.”
“They can gain closure, close old wounds and hopefully move forward,” Schochor said.
The three victims of the alleged abuse are from Montgomery, Frederick and Queen Anne’s counties. They were all between the ages of nine and 12 when they said the abuse took place.
One incident happened in the 1990s and the other two reportedly occurred in the 1960s, according to the lawsuit. One of the priests named in the lawsuit was eventually defrocked after being convicted of sexual abuse of another child, the lawsuit said.
Schochor said he believes there are more victims, and he urged them to come forward and join the lawsuit.
“I don’t think anyone knows just yet, but I would guess — and this is a guess — it would be hundreds to thousands,” Schochor said.
The lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese of Washington of “repeatedly facilitating and permitting the sexual abuse of children and prioritizing its institutional interests and secular power,” and that it has caused “incalculable harm to numerous Maryland children and their families.”
The Archdiocese of Washington said in a statement that it became aware of the lawsuit on Monday.
“We do not comment on pending litigation,” spokeswoman Patricia Zapor said, adding that the archdiocese is reviewing “all available options in response to the new Maryland law that allows for civil suits for sexual abuse to be filed at any time, regardless of how long ago the alleged actions occurred.”
Last month, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, said in a letter to members of the archdiocese that he feels “profound sorrow” for the acts of abuse that happened within the church.
“Our Archdiocese maintains a zero-tolerance policy; that is, any cleric, lay employee, or volunteer who is found to have abused is immediately and permanently removed from ministry,” Gregory’s letter, published in the Catholic Standard, said.
The lawsuit accuses the archdiocese of negligence, conspiracy, fraud, aiding and abetting and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among others.
Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.
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