The diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph agreed Tuesday to pay $225,000 toa former altar boy who said he was sexually abused by a priest in the1970s. The settlement came days after a Kansas City judge declined todismiss the lawsuit and less than a week before it was scheduled to goto trial.
The case represents the first time on the west side of the state that a2006 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that altered the state's statute oflimitations was successfully harnessed in an effort to send a clergysexual abuse lawsuit to a jury.
The St. Louis Archdiocese faced the same situation in July after St.Louis County Circuit Judge Barbara Wallace ruled that a jury shoulddecide the outcome of a similar suit. The archdiocese eventuallysettled with the plaintiff for $300,000, substantially more than itsinitial offer.
The state Supreme Court ruling, Powel v. Chaminade, added new wordingto how the statute of limitations can be applied, essentially allowinga court to consider when a plaintiff not only recalled the allegedabuse, but recognized the harm it inflicted.
Attorneys for people alleging they were victims of clergy sexualabuse say the ruling provides new hope for dozens of Missourians whopreviously had little chance of suing the church in court.
Church lawyers disagree. They say once the courts have had a chance tograpple with the Powel ruling, the statute of limitations in Missouriwill remain relatively unchanged.
Before the ruling, state courts had imposed a more rigid view of thestatute of limitations that required filing claims of childhood sexualabuse within five years of turning 21, or by age 31, depending on thelaw in effect at the time of the alleged abuse.
In the Kansas City case, Jackson County Circuit Judge John R. O'Malleydenied the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph summary judgment Friday,after hearing arguments based on the Powel ruling. His decision allowedthe lawsuit to proceed to a jury verdict.
Francis Scheuring said he was 11 and an altar boy at St. Mary inIndependence when the Rev. Francis McGlynn, now 80, began to sexuallyabuse him. He said the abuse lasted for three years. McGlynn, whoagreed to pay Scheuring an additional $2,000 in the settlement, retiredfrom diocesan ministry in 1992, according to the diocese.
In a statement, the diocese said Wednesday that it had "agreed to endthe dispute with the hope that true healing can begin." Jonathan Haden,an attorney for the diocese, could not be reached for comment.
Scheuring's attorney, Rebecca Randles, said her firm has 14 more casesrepresenting 41 plaintiffs waiting to use the Powel ruling to argue fortheir access to firstname.lastname@example.org | 314-340-8221
for a listing of alternate locations.