March 25, 2019

CUA Law Professor Mary Leary was quoted in a March 19 New York Times article entitled "West Virginia Sues Bishop and Diocese Over Sex Abuse, Citing Consumer Protection"

West Virginia Sues Bishop and Diocese Over Sex Abuse, Citing Consumer Protection

From: The New York Times
By: Elizabeth Dias and Julia Jacobs
Date: March 19, 2019

The West Virginia attorney general filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against a retired top bishop and the state's only Roman Catholic diocese, saying that they "knowingly employed pedophiles," the latest in a string of attempts by law enforcement to hold officials accountable for sexual abuse in the church.

The civil suit is notable for its unusual approach: It accuses church leaders of violating a consumer protection law, a statute that is more commonly applied to companies, not religious institutions.
. . .

"What we are going to see is perhaps a broader array of legal avenues to hold the dioceses responsible," Mary G. Leary, a law professor at the Catholic University of America, said of the West Virginia case.

The West Virginia approach alleges that the diocese and bishop "knowingly employed pedophiles" at Catholic schools and camps but did not disclose to parents the "danger" of sending their children to these programs, which advertised safe environments. The suit also says that church officials did not conduct adequate background checks for employees of Catholic schools and camps.

"We believe that every parent who paid tuition for a service that falls under consumer protection laws deserves to know the schools their children are attending are safe," the West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey said in a phone interview. "The church itself advertised that these children would be in a safe environment."