Lawsuit Against the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Revived, SNAP Responds
A case against one of Pennsylvania’s catholic dioceses has been revived following a review by the state’s Superior Court. We are grateful to the judge who made the decision to allow this case to move forward.
In this case, Renee Rice’s original claim against Fr. Charles Bodziak was thrown out because of statute of limitations reasons. However, Rice only became aware of the active attempts by church officials to cover up the crimes committed by Fr. Bodziak after the release of a state grand jury report in 2016. If a diocese is actively working to conceal crimes that have been committed, it stands to reason that it would be difficult for a young victim to prove her claims within the short, two-year window allowed by Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations at that time.
But by allowing a jury to decide if the survivor in this case “exercised due diligence and acted in a timely manner in investigating the wrongs that were committed,” Judge Deborah Kunselman is using a unique method to help Ms. Rice and other survivors of clergy abuse have a chance at justice following cover-ups by church officials in Pennsylvania.
We hope that this suit succeeds. And we hope that this case will inspire others who had their claims barred by the archaic and predator-friendly statute of limitations in Pennsylvania to come forward, make a report to law enforcement, and take steps towards holding church officials accountable.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)