Victims of clergy sexual abuse accused Archbishop Timothy Dolan on Wednesday of reneging on a promise to support legislation that would extend or eliminate the statute of limitations in cases involving children.
Representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the church’s attorney had been ordered to seek dismissal of five cases on the grounds that the alleged abuse occurred too long ago. Those cases all involve the late Father George Nuedling.
SNAP’s charges, which came at a news conference outside the Cousins Center, were based on a report in last week’s Catholic Herald newspaper that attorney Matt Flynn said he would seek dismissal of the cases based on the statute of limitations.
However, archdiocesan spokesman Jerry Topczewski said in a statement that SNAP members were mistaken, and Dolan had directed Flynn to resolve the cases out of court.
“Apparently they are not in contact with the attorney representing the victims-survivors who filed lawsuits, which is unfortunate,” Topczewski said.
Jeffrey Anderson, the Minneapolis lawyer who represents the five victims, said Flynn offered to pay for some therapy for the victims during a Tuesday phone call but did not agree to meet with an independent mediator.
“He called and said, ‘You’re going to lose anyway so we’ll throw a crumb to your clients if they drop the cases,’ ” Anderson said.
Flynn declined to comment.
At an October meeting with victims at the Midwest Express Center, Dolan said he supported the idea of extending the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases and requiring clergy and church officials to report suspected cases of abuse to authorities.
Victims were taken aback when they read that Dolan had told Flynn to seek a dismissal of the cases, said Peter Isely, SNAP’s regional director.
Dolan did not respond directly to Isely’s charge.
In a statement, he said that Catholic bishops had supported legislation in the mid-1990s that would have required clergy to report sex abuse but the measure failed. Dolan also said bishops in the state were discussing other legislation that is expected to be proposed in January but did not say whether he supported it. Three bills in the works would eliminate or extend the statute of limitations; require clergy to report sex abuse; and make it possible for child victims to seek damages from the church.