Sunday, June 28, 2020

Court Allows Most of Abused Plaintiff's Claims Against Diocese To Proceed

In Doe v. Norwich Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., 2020 Conn. Super. LEXIS 616 (CT Super. Ct., May 26, 2020), a Connecticut trial court refused to dismiss many of the allegations in a lawsuit alleging that a Catholic diocese acted negligently and recklessly in a manner leading to sexual abuse of the plaintiff by two Catholic priests between 1978 and 1988. According to the court:
The challenged allegations include the plaintiff's claims alleging the defendants' failure to immediately remove Charles Many or J. Lawrence Ouimet from their assigned roles, provide training and/or educational programs as it pertains to proper conduct toward parishioners, promulgate policies and rules proscribing priests from taking children into private rooms when the defendants knew or should have known that priests in the defendant Diocese had sexually assaulted children under such circumstances, develop and implement a program or policy with regard to the issue of improper sexual conduct, and police the activities of the priests, particularly Charles Many and J. Lawrence Ouimet, upon the premises that the defendants owned and controlled. 
... [T]the majority of the plaintiff's challenged allegations involve a factual inquiry and do not require an interpretation or weighing of a religious belief, doctrine or practice that is undertaken for religious reasons.... These allegations concern child sex abuse by a Catholic priest, and whether the Diocesan Corporation knew or should have known of the same, about which there would be no need for the court to evaluate the proprieties of scripture or religious teachings.
The court did dismiss a portion of the allegations which involve religious decisions or religion-based obligations.