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Catholic Church faces "astronomical" liability

Priests inside a church
Photo: Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

17 years after the Boston Globe published its groundbreaking reporting on sexual abuse by priests, the Catholic Church faces a historic crisis of legal liability.

The big picture: The Church could be on the hook for more than $4 billion in damages, the AP estimates.

  • There could be at least 5,000 new cases against the church in New York, New Jersey and California alone, which are among the eight states with “lookback windows” that allow sex abuse claims no matter how old, the AP reports.
  • 15 states and D.C. have changed their statute of limitations since 2018 to allow for these suits, since so many sexual assault allegations date back decades.

Why it matters: Never before have so many states acted in near-unison to lift the restrictions that once shut people out if they didn’t bring claims of childhood sex abuse by a certain age, often their early 20s.

The bottom line: Los Angeles lawyer Paul Mones, who has won tens of millions in sex abuse cases against the church going back to the 1980s, told the AP that “the zeitgeist is completely unfavorable to the Catholic Church.”

  • “The X-factor here is whether there will be trials,” he said. “If anyone starts trying these cases, the numbers could become astronomical.”

Go deeper: Hundreds of accused priests face no oversight