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Accountability

We acted swiftly on abuse claim, Knights say

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Knights of Columbus denied allegations made in two lawsuits filed Dec. 14 that the fraternal organization did not address claims that a former Knight abused two men decades ago when they were young and tried to conceal the allegations.

The lawsuits claim that Juan "Julian" Rivera, a former leader of the Columbian Squires in Brownsville, Texas, abused the men in the 1970s and 1980s when they were boys. The Columbian Squires is a Knights-sponsored leadership group for boys 10-18.

The suits were filed separately by two adults now in their 40s; one lives in Texas, the other in Kansas. Each suit seeks more than $5 million in damages. They were filed by a Florida lawyer in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, where the Knights has its headquarters.

One of the alleged victims claimed he reported the abuse to Knights officials in 1986, who supposedly concealed his claim and intimidated him into not making it public.

The Knights' Dec. 14 statement said the fraternal organization learned of the allegations against Rivera "only one year ago, in December 2009."

Legionaries forbid display of founder's photo

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ROME -- With the authorization of a papal delegate, the Legionaries of Christ have formalized in a new decree a number of reforms regarding the depiction of the order's founder, the late-Father Marcial Maciel Degollado.

"The decree formalizes in broad strokes what has for the most part already been general practice," said a statement posted Dec. 11 on the Legionaries of Christ website.

Catholics fight bid to lift statute of limitations on abuse

TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday (Dec. 9) will consider a bill that would eliminate any statute of limitations on when sex abuse victims can sue—and allow them to take action against clergy, educators and others who knew about abuse and did nothing to stop it.

Under current state law, victims can sue their abuser or a parent or guardian who knew about the abuse and allowed it to occur. The bill also would allow victims to sue those who had “supervisory or disciplinary power” but did nothing about the abuse.

“The current process presents real obstacles for the victim that are unfair,” said state Sen. Joseph Vitale, a Democratic sponsor of the bill that will be considered by the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

“For those who discover their abuse later on in life, this will give them a greater opportunity to bring a civil action against an individual and the institutions that harbor the criminals.”

Advocates for abuse victims said they often take years to gather the courage to come forward with their stories, and often suffer posttraumatic stress disorder and depression.

Court: Diocese can't appeal abuse victims' $12.8 million claim

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YORK, England -- A Catholic diocese in northeast England has been refused the right to appeal a court ruling that found it responsible for a $12.8 million compensation claim by victims of child sexual abuse.

The Court of Appeal in London Nov. 9 rejected Diocese of Middlesbrough's application to appeal to the Supreme Court what is believed to be the largest award to abuse victims in English history.

Commission: Magdalene laundries should compensate wards

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DUBLIN (CNS) -- The Irish government has asked the country's attorney general to consider a report by the Irish Human Rights Commission that calls for compensating women and girls held in the so-called Magdalene laundries run by 10 religious orders.

Former inmates of the laundries, also known as Magdalene asylums, presented their case to the commission because they were not entitled to the same compensation given to former residents of church-managed orphanages and youth facilities despite often suffering the same hardship and neglect highlighted in the Ryan Report published in 2009.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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