May people with repressed memories collect from the Roman Catholic Church on new claims of old sex abuse? A decision by the Missouri Supreme Court will have a significant financial impact on the church in Missouri and on those trying to win damages over allegations of misconduct by priests that may date back decades, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The case involves accusations that two faculty members at a St. Louis area school sexually abused a teenage student named Michael Powel in the early 1970s. Powel, now 47 and living in Florida, says he was abused from age 15 to 17.
His attorney, Joseph Bauer Jr., told the Supreme Court yesterday that Powel knew the abuse had happened but repressed the memory at age 17 and did not recall the events until more than 20 years later. Bauer said Missouri’s statute of limitations should not start running until Powel remembered the alleged abuse and realized the adverse effects it had on his life. Gerard Noce, one of the school’s attorneys, countered that Powel would have been aware of the alleged abuse and the adverse effects it had on him and by law should have filed suit within five years of turning 21. “They’re trying to make this different than any other money damage lawsuit,” Noce said after the argument. Between 30 and 35 civil suits alleging sexual abuse have been settled by the Archdiocese of St. Louis in recent years.