Maryland Clergy Sexual Abuse
Several cases of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Maryland over the years have been documented in grand jury reports and legal settlements.
One of the most high-profile cases in Maryland involved Father A. Joseph Maskell, a priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was accused of sexually abusing numerous students while serving as a guidance counselor at Archbishop Keough High School in the 1960s and 1970s. Maskell was never charged with a crime before he died in 2001, but his case was the subject of the Netflix documentary series “The Keepers,” which delved into the allegations of abuse and the Church’s response to them.
The Attorney General’s Report Outlining Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore
Approximately four years ago, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General launched an investigation into the sexual abuse of children within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In November 2022, the Attorney General sought to release a 456-page report identifying 158 clergy accused of sexual abuse, including 43 clergy never publicly identified by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The report outlines the sexual abuse of more than 600 victims for 80 years. In March 2023, a judge was permitted to release a redacted version of the report and also held that an unredacted version of the report could be disclosed under certain circumstances. This report is a roadmap that outlines institutional cover-ups and lays the foundation for successful civil cases against the Archdiocese of Baltimore for those who were abused.
The Statute of Limitations in Maryland for Sexual Abuse Cases
Currently, Maryland law states that survivors have until the age of 38 to file a civil lawsuit. If you were born before 1988, you are, in some sense, time-barred. Although the new law says age 38 (i.e., 1985), there is a gap between the 2003 and 2017 laws that many might fall in. Always consult a skilled attorney to determine your rights. Many survivors do not come to grips with what happened to them until well into their fifties. This is very difficult for many to accept.
Maryland’s New Window Law Eliminates Time Restrictions to File Lawsuits.
Over several years, many brave survivors lobbied the state government to open the time that sexual abuse survivors could bring civil claims against organizations responsible for their abuse. C.T. Wilson, himself a survivor and a member of the House of Delegates, fought courageously for these reforms for several years. Finally, in 2023, likely due to political changes in the Senate and the Attorney General’s report, a new law retroactively eliminating the statute of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse passed both the House and Senate. Highlights of the law include:
- Child sexual abuse survivors can pursue a case regardless of when they were abused.
- Child sexual abuse survivors can pursue a case regardless of their age.
- Child sexual abuse survivors can pursue a case against responsible private organizations like the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Seek compensation of up to $1.5 million per incident for emotional distress and additional out-of-pocket expenses.
- Child sexual abuse survivors can pursue a case against responsible public organizations. Compensation of up to $890,000 per incident for emotional distress and additional out-of-pocket expenses.
When Will This New Take Effect?
The new law goes into effect on October 1, 2023. However, you should contact an attorney now if you have a case or questions.
Why Window Laws Matter?
Statutes of limitations nationwide have set arbitrary time restrictions on when survivors can file claims against those who harmed them. These timelines have never lined up with the data and scientific evidence regarding when child victims of a sexual abuse report. Research states that the average age of disclosure for a child victim of sexual abuse is 52. Decades after the abuse happened. This is due to multiple factors, including trauma, fear of retaliation, confusion, shame, etc.
Every victim deserves access to our court system. There should be no statute of limitation for criminal or civil justice in childhood sexual abuse. Windows have proven effective in the states they have passed by:
- enabling survivors to expose the predators who harmed them
- access documents that enable them to understand what happened in their respective cases
- depose the abusers and those who knew about the abuse.
Window legislation enables communities to know who these predators are and to prevent others from being harmed. Windows provide much-delayed justice to survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
If you are a survivor in Maryland and think the Child Victims’ Act applies to your case, Andreozzi + Foote wants to talk with you. The lawyer you choose to take on your case matters. You want someone who is trusted, dedicated, experienced, and knowledgeable. Call today for a Free. To find a comprehensive database of identified predator priests in Maryland, go here.