Court rejects dad's lawsuit in clergy abuse case

Detroit Free Press/February 2, 2006
By David Crumm

An Allen Park retiree, who sued the Archdiocese of Detroit over the alleged abuse of his son in the 1970s by the Rev. Alfred Miller, had his lawsuit rejected by the Michigan Court of Appeals on Wednesday.

Attorney David Steinberg of Bingham Farms said Ed Szkarlat and his son are very disappointed. The suit was an innovative legal attempt to get around Michigan's statutes of limitation on sexual abuse.

The son, Gregory Szkarlat, is now a teacher in another state. In 2002, he told church officials in Detroit that Miller had abused him repeatedly in the 1970s. The archdiocese removed Miller from ministry and announced that the abuse claim against the priest seemed credible.

Gregory Szkarlat was unable to sue the church, but his father filed the unusual lawsuit in 2003. Ed Szkarlat argued that he had his own legal claim because some of the abuse happened while the family was sending Gregory Szkarlat to Catholic schools.

Steinberg said: "We were the first case to try the legal theory of having the parents be the plaintiffs, but we can see now that theory isn't going to go forward. That's more sad news for people who were victims of abuse."

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