The Supreme Court majority said the two-year statute of limitations began to run when Rice was last assaulted by Bodziak, purportedly in 1981, although it may have expired in 1987, when she turned 20. Rice did not pursue her claims until a 2016 grand jury report into abuse in the diocese.
“We need not resolve the issue as it is clear the statute of limitations expired decades ago,” wrote Justice Christine Donohue for the majority.
Donohue said that whether “courthouse doors should be opened for suits based on underlying conduct that occurred long ago is an exercise in line drawing that includes difficult policy determinations” and that courts are “ill-equipped to make that call.”
Rice’s lawyer, Alan Perer, said the high court’s decision ends his client’s lawsuit.
“Once a child knows they’ve been assaulted by a priest, it puts them on notice that they should have suspected and investigated whether or not the diocese was aware of this priest conduct, concealed it, hid it from the parishioners, including the plaintiff,” Perer said.
The diocese’s lawyer, Eric Anderson, hailed the decision.
“They’re going to apply the statute of limitations the way it should be applied in Pennsylvania,” Anderson said. “It’s been the law, established law, for a long period of time. There’s nothing unique or different about this case.”