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Friday
May312013

Plaintiffs’ Motion to Reconsider Filed with Court

The Motion to Reconsider was filed on Tuesday, May 28 and served on Wednesday, May 29.  The full title reads, “Plaintiffs’ Motion to Reconsider the Application of Maryland’s Statute of Limitations to Conspiracy Claims of All Plaintiffs and to Reconsider the Application of Courts and Judicial Proceeding §5-117 and Allow Certain Plaintiffs Seven Years from the Age of Majority for Filing of Their Action.” 

The argument invalidating the statute of limitations, since the conspiracy was only discovered in August 2011, is put forward in more detail.  The Judge may reject it again.  That doesn’t mean it has no merit.  If rejected, the Plaintiffs lawyers will appeal the ruling.  The entire appellate process will probably take around two years.  It is an uphill battle but the Plaintiffs’ are willing to fight on in the cause of justice.     

The argument that the statute of limitations for Plaintiffs Renee Gamby and Donna Doe should be 7 years from the age of majority (18), not 3 years, is a new one from what I can tell.  It looks sound from my limited perspective especially in the case of Gamby since the alleged crimes against her occurred in Maryland.  I hope it succeeds. 

The complete Motion to Reconsider is available under SGM Lawsuit / SGM Class Action Lawsuit Documents.  Here are some highlights.  

Factual Background 

“As alleged in the SAC [Second Amended Complaint], discovery of the conspiracy occurred in August 2011.  Until that date, plaintiffs were not aware of the concerted efforts by Church leadership to suppress reporting of child abuse, to interfere with the prosecution of child abuse, and to prevent other church members from learning of past reported child abuse.” 

Civil Conspiracy Claims Are Timely Filed as Such Claims Accrued at the Time of Discovery of the Conspiracy 

“Under the discovery rule, a cause of action for conspiracy accrues when the plaintiff learns of the conspiracy or with reasonable inquiry should have learned of the conspiracy.  Courts applying the discovery rule to civil conspiracy claims have reached the same conclusion - the crucial factor is the discovery of the conspiracy, not the discovery of the underlying tort injury…   

“To hold otherwise means that a plaintiff is barred from bringing a claim before she ever discovers or could have discovered the factual predicates for the claim, a direct contradiction of the discovery rule… 

“Like other states, Maryland recognizes that different causes of action may have different accrual dates, and the time of learning about the injury arising from negligence is not the same as the time of learning about the conspiracy.  The timeliness of conspiracy claims should be judged by the discovery of the conspiracy, not the discovery of the underlying injury associated with other causes of action.” 

Claims of Certain Plaintiffs Are Timely Filed Within the Requirements of §5-117 

“In October 2003, Maryland law was amended by passage of Courts and Judicial Proceeding Section 5-117, which increased the time allowed for bringing claims “arising out of an alleged incident of “sexual abuse” that occurred while the victim was a minor.  Rather than the standard three year statute of limitations, the new law allowed a victim seven years after reaching the age of majority to file suit, if the claims fall within the scope of the law.  The claims of Renee Gamby and Donna Doe both “arise out of’ alleged incidents of sexual abuse that occurred when they were minors.  In addition, both Gamby and Doe were the victims of “sexual abuse” as defined under Maryland law, because both were abused by persons specifically included within the scope of §5-177.  Meeting the requirements of §5-117, each plaintiff should be allowed 7 years from the date of majority, and thus the claims of Renee Gamby and Donna Doe are timely filed within the requirements of the Maryland law.” 

Conclusion 

“The application of the discovery rule to civil conspiracy claims dictates that such claims accrue at the time the plaintiffs discover or should have discovered the facts establishing the elements required to bring a conspiracy claim.  Under this rule, Plaintiffs civil conspiracy claims are timely filed.  Moreover, based on the allegations in the SAC, the allegations by Renee Palmer Gamby and Donna Doe arise out of alleged incidents of sexual abuse that occurred when the plaintiffs were minors.  As such, the applicable period of limitations is seven years from the age of majority, and claims by both Gamby and Doe were filed within the allowable limitations period.”

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Monday
May272013

"Where Are the Voices? The Continued Culture of Silence and Protection in American Evangelicalism" by Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian 

This past week, I have fluctuated between anger and tears as I read about Christian leaders who proclaim the Gospel with their voice, but remain silent and/or defensive about the horrors of child sexual abuse within the Church.  These leaders have once again, and perhaps unwittingly, demonstrated the art of marginalizing individual souls for the sake of reputation and friendships. 

Earlier this week, I read the second amended complaint filed by eleven plaintiffs against SGM, two churches, and a number of individuals, including a man named CJ Mahaney.  I won’t go into the factual details of this complaint here (if interested, you can read it here), but it is one of the most disturbing accounts of child sexual abuse and institutional “cover up” I have read in my almost 20 years of addressing this issue.  Besides the horrific accounts of child victimization (some of which allegedly occurred on church property), what struck me most about these allegations is the systematic efforts by these churches to discourage and sometimes prevent the families of children who had been victimized by church officials from speaking out and reporting to law enforcement.  Another aspect that struck me as I read (and re-read) through this complaint were the myriad of common threads related to the efforts made by these SGM churches to silence these survivors.  As a former prosecutor, much credibility is given to disclosures made by more than one person that have distinct and unique similarities…these did. 

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