Breaking Down Misconceptions about Civil Windows ‘Targeting’ the Catholic Church

by | Nov 28, 2023 | Catholic Church


Unless you live in a bubble, you probably have heard a few things fly around the rumor mill about these noteworthy individuals who have something in common. Ghislane Maxwell, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, New York Mayor Eric Adams, actor Sebastian Chacon, and rapper Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, actor Kevin Spacey, singer Axl Rose (of Guns N’ Roses), actor Cuba Gooding, billionaire Leon Black, actor Jamie Foxx, influential music executives Jimmy Iovine and Antonio “LA” Reid, Brooklyn clerics Ralph J. Maresca and Vincent M. Daly, as well as prominent New York physicians Dr. Robert Hadden and Dr. Darius Paduch. What do these people have in common, and why does this list show that the US Catholic hierarchy is deceptive?

A jigsaw puzzle full of different pieces; however, they fit as they were all sued within the last year for alleged rape or sexual assault. Many of these claims even date back decades. These lawsuits came about due to an albeit temporary but potent ‘civil window’ that lifted the statute of limitations on sex crimes in New York. Since the NY Adult Survivors Act was passed, more than 3,000 civil suits have been filed, some aimed at politicians and others at institutions, including hospitals and jails. Unfortunately, that window has now closed while legislators are trying to have it extended.

Are Civil Laws ‘Targeting’ The Catholic Church?

But let’s not dress this topic up; it’s a bit thorny. And it’s been a bone of contention for Catholic officials who disingenuously claim such laws ‘target’ them, a claim that has once again proven spurious. We at Horowitz Law don’t know or care what religious beliefs (if any) these high-profile accused offenders may have. Nor, of course, do their alleged victims. Why? Because sex crimes – whether perpetrated on kids or adults – aren’t about religion. These crimes are manifestations of the abuse of power. Because when it comes to heinous acts like sexual abuse, religion is inconsequential. Civil lawsuits fight these abuses and, indeed, help prevent these abuses, a fact that Catholic figures steadfastly refuse to acknowledge.

Church officials, however, prefer to brush this aside and paint a picture of innocent ‘princes of the church’ singled out by these laws. They continue to cry wolf, making baseless claims about the effects of these ‘windows.’ And there are a couple of our favorites:

‘The Sky Is Falling!’

Remember Chicken Little? Well, the drama unfolds somewhat like that. Two themes run common:

  1. Courts will be overwhelmed and clogged with cases.
  2. There may be many false allegations.

On paper, these claims might increase a few heartbeats. But in reality, they’re as insignificant as an ant on an elephant’s back. Advocacy groups like ChildUSA and the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests have debunked these claims, time after time.

The Truth About Civil ‘Windows’

Now, let’s turn the tables. After countless battles fought by victims and their supporters, over half the states in the US have adopted civil abuse ‘windows.’ Yes, that’s right, more than 25 states have civil abuse ‘windows’ in place. Thus, windows are the norm, not the exception. At this point, we at Horowitz Law believe the burden falls on opponents of, not advocates for, ‘windows.’ Let wrongdoers, Catholic figures, and insurance executives try to PROVE their bogus allegations about civil ‘windows.’ Let them do the research, produce the studies, and publish the reports showing even one jurisdiction in which ‘clogged courts’ or ‘false allegations’ have proven problematic. We’re all for this.

Having spent countless hours scouring articles from Maine to Hawaii and California to Georgia, there is no evidence suggesting serious impediments caused by these 25 ‘window’ laws. Quite the opposite, several states have reintroduced their ‘windows’ after the first round expired – something unlikely to happen if these laws were unworkable or unfair.

A Shout-out to the Brave and Compassionate

Ending on a note of gratitude, a tip of the hat goes to every courageous individual who used the recent New York Adult Survivors Act to unveil the monsters that perpetrate and hide sex crimes. We commend your bravery. You could have stayed silent and done nothing. But instead, you chose a more courageous path, and your actions have made our society safer.

And let’s not forget the New York lawmakers who championed this act through the assembly in Albany – Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal – your compassion is commendable. We hope that everyone who benefitted from this act joins forces with these legislators to permanently change New York laws so that other victims can unearth similar opportunities in the future.

Let’s remember – ignorance is not bliss. Allowing misconceptions to fester only gives birth to more misguided beliefs. Let’s continue to break them down, one at a time, to pave the way for a more informed society.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by any medical professional, coach, teacher, religious authority figures, and other clergy. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, contact us today at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.