Diocese fails to get summary judgment in suit to hold it responsible for clergy sexual abuse

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Colomb v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington Vermont, Inc., (D VT, Sept. 28, 2012), a Vermont federal district court refused to grant summary judgment to a Catholic diocese in a suit that is seeking to hold it responsible for sexual abuse in the 1970’s by Father Edward Paquette and other priests. First the court ruled that it is impossible to rule as a matter of law that the statute of limitations has run since it must be determined when plaintiff made the connection between his longstanding psychological issues and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. It also refused to grant summary judgment based on various objections to the way in which damages are awarded and rejected the claim that the 1st Amendment precludes a suit against the diocese for negligent hiring or supervision.