Vatican Can Be Sued for Abuse: US Court

Ruling finds that Vatican can be held responsible for priests' actions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2009 3:35 AM CST
A demonstrator holds a sign reading "Sexual abuses, stop the Vatican cover-up" during a demonstration in St. Peter's square.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
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(Newser) – A federal court has ruled that the Vatican hierarchy can be sued for sexual abuse committed by priests, the Los Angeles Times reports. Judges decided that a man—who says he was molested by a priest in the '60s—can proceed with his lawsuit against the Vatican, even though it's a sovereign nation, because the alleged abuse occurred while the priest was an employee.

The ruling, which is being hailed as a watershed decision for abuse victims, "sets the standard for the whole world that there really can be justice for one victim even though he's a victim of one powerful organization," said a law professor who assisted the plaintiff. "We now have a template for understanding that anyone who harms our children in the US is going to be held accountable whether they're sovereign or not."