Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Irish Court Dismisses Abuse Suit Against Religious Order Not Brought For 30 Years

In Cassidy v. The Provincialate, (Ireland Ct. App., April 16, 2015), Ireland's Court of Appeal held that a sex abuse suit seeking damages from the Religious Sisters of Charity should be dismissed for inordinate and inexcusable delay.  The suit was brought in 2012 by a 47-year old married mother of four who claimed that a male employee of the religious order assaulted, abused and raped her over a period of 4 years beginning in 1977 when she was between 12 and 16 years old. She alleged that the religious order was negligent in allowing the abuser (identified as "PD") to have ongoing unsupervised contact with children. The appeals court concluded that there was insufficient evidence of facts that would excuse plaintiff's delay in bringing suit, and the delay would cause great prejudice to defendant since the alleged abuser is now dead:
In the absence of PD, the defendant is not in a position to challenge or counter the allegations of abuse which the plaintiff makes.... [I]n circumstances where, almost to a man or woman, those who were alive at the time of the alleged abuse are dead or incapable of giving evidence, the defendant is once again left in a hopelessly vulnerable situation. Further, those witnesses that might have been able to assist in giving evidence referable to the issue as to whether or not the defendant ought to be deemed vicariously liable for the actions of PD, should findings of abuse be made against him, are effectively non existent.
Lexology reports on the decision.