A US lawyer who has successfully sued the US Roman Catholic church over the long-running child sex abuse scandal said cases against the Vatican are crumbling and he is throwing in the towel.
“You have to have an impossible alignment of planets and moons to win any case against the Vatican,” attorney Bill McMurry told AFP a day after he asked a Kentucky court to dismiss a case to hold the Vatican accountable for all child sex abuse by Catholic clergy in the United States.
“It’s out of my hands now. It’s impossible to meet the burdens that the courts have placed on plaintiffs” who take on the Vatican, said McMurry, accusing the US judicial system of protecting the Holy See.
The Supreme Court has refused to review whether the Vatican is a sovereign state and therefore has broad legal immunity from prosecution over the sexual abuse of minors by priests in the United States.
“I was disappointed that our Supreme Court didn’t correct this injustice, and I’m frustrated that I can’t hold the Vatican accountable for what the Vatican did, but only for what the bishops did,” said McMurry.
“Immunity allows international religious organizations masquerading as foreign countries to commit any horrendous act as long as they do it from a distance,” he said.
McMurry filed a motion Monday with Louisville district court to dismiss a case against the Vatican filed by three men who claim they were sexually abused as boys by members of the Catholic clergy. One of the cases of alleged clergy sex abuse dates back to 1928.
The suit, filed in 2004, alleged that the Vatican had a policy of keeping secret any cases of clergy sex abuse.
In March, McMurry filed a motion in a Kentucky court to take sworn testimony from Pope Benedict XVI on what the Vatican knew about the long-running scandal of predator priests.
The plaintiffs asked to drop their case because US courts have recognized the Vatican as a sovereign state with immunity from prosecution, and, said McMurry, “because nobody has got a case that can meet the particulars that the courts say have to be met to win a case against the Vatican.
“How in the world are you going to prove that the bishop knew that the priest who abused a plaintiff in 1928 was a pedophile? The priest and bishop are dead,” he said.
Other child sex abuse cases against the Vatican were also fraying at the edges, according to Jeffrey Lena, the lawyer who has represented the Holy See in a number of cases that have come before US courts.
The cases of an alleged serial pedophile priest in Wisconsin and another in California “never filed anything,” Lena said.
And both sides in a high-profile case in Oregon will file for dismissal at the end of the month, said Lena, though a lawyer on the case insisted it was going ahead.
“The United States Supreme Court recently allowed the case to proceed and we will be providing the Oregon court with requests for documents and depositions in the coming months,” attorney Jeff Anderson said.
The clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in the United States in 2002 when the archbishop of Boston admitted he had protected a priest he knew had molested children.
The following year, the archdiocese of Louisville agreed to pay out nearly 26 million dollars in damages to 243 plaintiffs who had accused priests and other church employees of sexual abuse, and the archdiocese of covering it up. McMurry was the lead attorney on that case.
The sex abuse scandal has spread to Europe in recent months, with accusations of predator clergy coming from countries ranging from Austria to Ireland to the pope’s native Germany.
But in Europe, too, people who say they were victims of abusive clergy have come up against roadblocks as they seek justice for acts that in many cases occurred decades ago.
German prosecutors last month halted a probe against a German archbishop who was accused of allowing a priest to be hired even though he was aware of claims the man abused a boy in the 1960s, arguing that the alleged abuse occurred outside the statute of limitations.
Copyright: arcticle: AFP