Doe v. Holy See Brings Victims of Abuse by the Church One Step Closer to Suing the Vatican Says Attorney Irwin Zalkin

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Attorney Irwin Zalkin comments on landmark court case that brings victims of abuse one step closer to suing the Vatican.

A policy to keep secret the details of sexual abuse cases has existed for decades in the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world and in the United States. This policy shielded sexual abusers from civil and criminal accountability, and ensured that potential victims did not have notice of predators past abusive conduct.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse inflicted by Roman Catholic priests in the United Sates have earned victories before two Federal Appeals Courts opening a path to holding the Holy See, the Vatican, responsible for the abuse they endured.

Just last Tuesday, in Doe v. Holy See (06-35563), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Vatican can be sued in a United States court over alleged molestation by its priests. Preceded by O'Bryan v. Holy See last November, Doe v. Holy See is the second victory before a Federal Appeals Court, bringing survivors of childhood sexual abuse closer in their pursuit to sue the Vatican.

With experience litigating sexual abuse claims against the Catholic Dioceses in the U.S., Irwin Zalkin, one of the country's premier attorneys in clergy sexual abuse cases, believes that Doe v. Holy See will serve as precedent for the thousands of pending sexual abuse cases across the U.S.

"It is fully appropriate to hold international and national organizations responsible for the harm that they have caused to children in our nation" explained Zalkin. "A policy to keep secret the details of sexual abuse cases has existed for decades in the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world and in the United States. This policy shielded sexual abusers from civil and criminal accountability, and ensured that potential victims did not have notice of predators past abusive conduct."

The most shocking evidence brought to light in these cases stems from a Papal instruction issued by the Vatican in 1962 entitled "On the Manner of Proceeding in Cases of Solicitation," which outlines how church leaders were to proceed in cases of sexual abuse. Even as late as 1990, strategies were devised to keep secret the information regarding the abuse of children, as outlined in Bishop, and Canon Lawyer, A. James Quinn's address titled "National Conference of Catholic Bishops Guidelines and Other Considerations in Pedophilia Cases."

The decisions of Doe v. Holy See and O'Bryan v. Holy See control the courts of 11 states in the union, including California, where Zalkin has negotiated settlements in excess of $200 million dollars representing hundreds of victims of childhood sexual abuse against various Catholic dioceses.

Recent speculation has centered on New York as the next state to lift its statute of limitations, which would open the door for survivors of abuse to file lawsuits. Timothy Dolan, whose tenure as New York's Archbishop begins on April 15, will have to address the claims of victims of sexual abuse by New York's priests.

"Although Archbishop Dolan has publicly expressed his resentment of sexual predator clergy, in reality, when it comes to responding to claims for civil justice, he has not been particularly helpful or understanding of victims," said Zalkin. "In my clients' cases and many others we are familiar with, rather than reach out to victims, Archbishop Dolan and his lawyers raised every legal technical defense and sought to avoid compensating victims for the terrible harm inflicted on them."

With offices in New York and San Diego, The Zalkin Law Firm (http://www.nyclergyabuse.com) is one of the premier sexual abuse and personal injury law firms in the country. The firm's lawyers have achieved groundbreaking results in numerous high-profile clergy abuse cases across the United States.

Mr. Zalkin is available to speak to the media about Doe v. Holy See, Vatican responsibility, and clergy sexual abuse. Please call Lisa Maynes (212-889-1300) to arrange interviews. To speak to Mr. Zalkin about legal representation, please call The Zalkin Law Firm (212-889-1300).

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