Judge asked to reconsider SGM suit
Lawyers for plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of children claim a judge wrongly applied Maryland’s three-year statute of limitations to a conspiracy not discovered until 2011.
By Bob Allen
Attorneys for alleged sexual-abuse victims asked a Maryland judge to reconsider dismissal of a lawsuit due to the state’s three-year statute of limitations.
Lawyers Susan Burke and William O’Neil filed a motion May 28 asking Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Sharon Burrell to reconsider her May 23 ruling that plaintiffs alleging abuse and cover up by Sovereign Grace Ministries waited too long beyond their 18th birthdays to make a legal claim.
They argue that an alleged conspiracy to silence victims and shield pedophiles from arrest was not discovered until 2011, well within the three-year statute of limitations. They also claim that two of an original 11 plaintiff’s complaints fall within the three-year window and contend that the law actually allows persons who suffer sexual abuse as minors seven years from the age of majority to file claims, rather than the standard three-year statute of limitations.
Should the court reject the motion to reconsider, the attorneys have said they plan to appeal, a process likely to take two years.
Described as American evangelicalism's biggest sex scandal to date, the lawsuit has received attention in the Southern Baptist Convention because of personal and ministry ties between one of the defendants, Sovereign Grace Ministries founder C.J. Mahaney, and Southern Baptists involved in a movement called the New Calvinism.
Peter Lumpkins, a Baptist minister and blogger from Georgia, reiterated May 31 his support for a resolution at the upcoming SBC annual meeting in Houston calling on denominational leaders to sever ties with organizations or individuals involved in litigation alleging sexual abuse of minors.
Lumpkins said the resolution is needed “now more than ever” after Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler and Washington, D.C., pastor Mark Dever joined Presbyterian colleague Ligon Duncan in a public statement vouching for Mahaney’s personal integrity.
Lumpkins speculated that Dever, Duncan and Mohler probably did not expect the negative response their defense of Mahaney has received, but the bad news for rank-and-file Southern Baptists is that: “Since they ‘represent’ us -- at least in the public's mind -- we will be forced, to some extent anyway, to go down with them in the public's eye.”
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