(BALTIMORE) — Attorneys Ben Crump and Adam Slater announced that they plan to file lawsuits on behalf of the Baltimore Archdiocese sexual abuse victims starting Oct. 1, when the Maryland Child Victims Act of 2023 goes into effect.
The law, signed by Gov. Wes Moore last month, repealed the statute of limitations concerning damages in civil lawsuits regarding child sexual abuse claims.
During a press conference Tuesday, the attorneys praised the law and encouraged other states to take similar action.
“Hopefully, prayerfully other states will follow because it just didn’t happen in the state of Maryland as we all know,” Crump said.
“There’s so much anger in my life. So much hate,” said victim Marc Floto. “I just hope I can help somebody else understand that they can come forward and talk, or help somebody else young.”
Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown released a report last month accusing 156 priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore of sexually abusing more than 600 children.
Most of the alleged abusers are deceased, according to the report, and it did not mention the victims by name – even those who spoke out publicly.
The investigation into the abuse of children in Baltimore became public in 2018 after Archbishop William E. Lori informed priests and deacons that the Archdiocese has been cooperating with the AG’s office in an “investigation of records related to the sexual abuse of children,” according to a statement released by Lori in September of that year.
Lori added, “Based on my conversations with people throughout the Archdiocese…it is clear that we are a church in crisis and that crisis is one of trust. It is my hope and prayer that this independent review and other acts of transparency by the Archdiocese will bring about greater trust in the church among those who are understandably skeptical about the church’s handling of allegations of abuse.”
The attorney general office’s investigation revealed “incontrovertible history” that “is one of pervasive and persistent abuse by priests and other Archdiocese personnel,” according to the report. “It is also a history of repeated dismissal or cover up of that abuse by the Catholic Church hierarchy.”
At the press conference, the victims spoke out about the alleged abuse they received from some of the clergy, seminarians, deacons and employees of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Former Maryland state senator Timothy Ferguson indicated that he was sexually abused by a priest during a fishing trip when he was a young teen.
“I’m here basically to help anybody who’s out there who has not come forth, who has not reached out for help. It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “And you need people to get better. If it’s people that mess us up, it’s people that help us get better.”
Other victims echoed similar messages.
Tanya Allen, who alleged that she was inappropriately touched in front of the church congregation and also while she was helped into a robe, said “we’re not being silent anymore. Our voices will be heard.”
“I’m not ashamed of anything of that nature that happened to me,” she said. “I’m not the one that should be ashamed.”
The Maryland investigation became public after a two-year probe in Pennsylvania ended with a bombshell grand jury report released in August 2018, accusing hundreds of Roman Catholic priests of assaulting children.