Just 100 days left to file child sex abuse lawsuits before deadline


Victims of historic sexual abuse have 100 days left to come forward and file an action for damages before the claim window closes in Minnesota.

In 2013, the state lifted the statute of limitations for child sex abuse through the Minnesota Child Victims Act, giving victims a three-year window to file a civil lawsuit seeking damages for abuse that may have happened decades ago.

Previously, a victim of child abuse had to file a lawsuit by the time they were 24 years old, but a temporary window for people aged over 24 was opened after advocates argued it could take many years for victims to come to terms with their abuse.

This window for lawsuits will close on May 25.

The exception is claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the deadline for which was moved up to Aug. 3, 2015, by a bankruptcy judge in order to speed up the archdiocese's financial reorganization.

Victims of sexual abuse from any other Catholic diocese or other institutions in Minnesota still have until May 25 to file.

Dioceses struggling in wake of abuse claims

The Star Tribune reported last year that many of the lawsuits filed have been against the Catholic Church in Minnesota, with hundreds of people claiming they were abused by clergy and staff in churches, schools and family homes from the 1950s to 2010s.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was criminally charged last year for its failure to protect children who were abused by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer.

In January 2015, it filed for bankruptcy as it prepared to handle the raft of lawsuits filed against it under the Child Victims Act.

In December, the Diocese of Duluth also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the wake of a sex abuse case concerning "Doe 30," who was awarded more than $8 million in damages after he was abused by a priest at St. Catherine's Church in Squaw Lake in the late 1970s.

This week, the Duluth Diocese and attorneys representing child abuse victims agreed to enter mediation to settle victims' claims, WDAY reports. Church representatives said entering bankruptcy would help the diocese protect its assets while allowing it to pay out what is due victims.

Going forward under the Minnesota Child Victims Act, there is no statute of limitation for filing a lawsuit for anyone subjected to sexual abuse when they're under the age of 18. There's also no a statute of limitation if the victim was under 24 at the time the Child Victims Act came into force on May 25, 2013.

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