ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) –
Minnesota may be on the verge of a big game change when it comes to lawsuits brought forward by those who were sexually abused as children thanks to a recent exemption to the statute of limitations.
“Give this kid and his family a trial,” urged attorney Jeff Anderson.
From his ornate office in St. Paul, Anderson has been taking on the nation’s most-respected institutions over allegations of sexual abuse of children. On Tuesday, he was focused on the Boy Scouts of America.
Anderson is currently trying to convince a judge that the Boy Scouts should be held civilly liable for Peter Stibal, who is serving 14 years in prison for molesting boys. Anderson discovered the organization even kept a file on Stibal and 1,400 other scout leaders — the so-called “perversion files.”
“They clearly had red flags that Stibal was an offender before he abused this child,” Anderson said.
On Wednesday, Anderson will take on the Catholic Church yet again, including Father Thomas Adamson. The archdiocese admits the priest abused children, but many of the cases were outside the statute of limitations — until last Friday, that is.
When Gov. Mark Dayton signed the Child Victims Act into law, it erased the time limit to sue in such cases. That’s why Jim Keenan’s case against Adamson was dismissed two years ago, and the diocese even tried to recover the legal fees.
“I feel like the bully was let out on the field and he got to beat me again when I found out about that,” Keenan told FOX 9 News.
Now, he’ll get another chance — and so will the victims of Lynn Seibel, the former drama teacher at Shattuck St. Mary’s. The victims of Bill Jacobs, who taught at Breck and a YMCA camp, will also be able to bring forth their cases.
Anderson says it’s important for the victims to come forward, especially since respected institutions are fallible.
“They are making choices — choices to protect their brand and the reputation, to preserve that at the peril of the children,” he said. “It really is a form of denial.”
While the case against the Boy Scouts is not affected by the new law — and in a statement, the scouts said they’re one of the safest places for children and lead in youth protection — Anderson was instrumental in getting the so-called perversion files released. Now, he’s after something similar from the Catholic archdiocese — the names of 47 priests suspected of sexual misconduct. In light of the new law, he believes he has another chance on making those names public.
Minnesota’s new law allows a three-year, retroactive exemption from the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse. Going forward, there will be no statute of limitations for victims of new cases.
The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is completely committed to ensuring the safety of children and young people who have been entrusted to our care.
Since 2002, when the archdiocese implemented all of the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, we have taken extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of young people in our parishes, schools, religious education classes and all of our programs. We continue to do so today. Few, if any, other organizations have instituted such rigorous measures to protect young people.
We believe that the abuse of young people is always a tragedy, and a social problem that should be confronted by all sectors of society. As we have stated unequivocally in the past, anyone having knowledge of misconduct within a Catholic parish or school should immediately call the proper authorities and is encouraged to notify the archdiocese at (651) 291-4497.