A Lucas County Common Pleas Court ruling throwing out the civil lawsuit of a woman who accused Gerald Robinson of torturing and raping her in a satanic ritual when she was a child will be appealed, an attorney in the case said yesterday.
Mark Davis, the attorney for the plaintiff who filed the suit anonymously with her husband as Survivor Doe and Spouse Doe, said the decision of Judge Ruth Ann Franks will be appealed to the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals within the next 30 days.
“In my opinion, Satan has won and God has lost,” Mr. Davis said of the ruling, which was filed yesterday in Common Pleas Court. “I have absolutely no doubt, if given our day in court, that we would be able to prove that this cult existed and the victim was abused.”
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His client alleged in a civil complaint filed in April, 2005, that she was the victim of sexual abuse and torture during ritualistic ceremonies in the basement of a North Toledo Catholic church in the 1960s and 1970s.
The woman claimed she recognized Robinson as one of the abusers after he was arrested in March, 2004, for the 1980 slaying of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in a chapel at the former Mercy Hospital.
Robinson, 68, was convicted of murder May 11 in Common Pleas Court and is serving a 15-years-to-life sentence in the Hocking Correctional Institution in southeast Ohio.
The civil suit was filed against Robinson, the Toledo Catholic Diocese, St. Adalbert’s Parish and School, former lay minister Gerald Mazuchowski, and the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales.
The woman, who is in her 40s, claimed Robinson, Mr. Mazuchowski, and other adults wearing nun’s clothing cut her with a knife, drew an upside-down cross on her stomach, and forced her to drink the blood of a rabbit they had killed.
Her suit claimed the abuse began in 1968, when she was 5 years old, and continued until 1975, and that her own mother was close with Robinson and Mr. Mazuchowski, participated in the rituals, and was becoming a “high priestess of Satan.”
Mr. Davis said his client and her husband were extremely disappointed by the judge’s ruling. “From their point of view, the abusers are getting away with it and this satanic cult continues to be protected and remains festering within our community,” he said.
In dismissing all 15 counts in the lawsuit, Judge Franks said Survivor Doe made her claims after the expiration of the statute of limitations.
The claims ranged from allegations of sexual battery and negligence to violating the state’s civil racketeering statute.
Mr. Davis had argued that the statute of limitations should not apply because his client didn’t know the identity of her abusers because they had disguised themselves.
In asking for the suit to be thrown out, diocesan attorney Thomas Pletz said the woman could have asked her mother to identify the men who were disguised as nuns and had ample opportunity to do so before the statute of limitations expired.
The ruling of Judge Franks means that a trial on the allegations will not proceed. In such a civil trial, Robinson would have had to take the witness stand. Unlike criminal trials, defendants in civil court can be compelled to testify.
They have the right not to respond, but in civil cases such a refusal can be held against them, legal experts said.
Sally Oberski, a diocesan spokesman, said in a written statement: “Whatever the legalities involved, the diocese remains committed to supporting victims through counseling and outreach and encouraging allegations to be brought forward.”
Mr. Mazuchowski, 55, said the lawsuit and the woman’s accusations were “nonsense.”
“The irony of all of this is that I would have been 15 years old when all this started,” he said. “I am exhilarated to be exonerated. Dare I say, alleluia, the strife is over and the battle is won.”
The plaintiff claimed she recognized Mr. Mazuchowski as one of her abusers through an article that was published in The Blade in February, 2005.
Mr. Pletz, of the law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, said he wouldn’t comment.
“Since we expect an appeal, we won’t be making any further comment on the matter since it will be a pending suit,” he said.
Claudia Vercellotti, co-director of Toledo SNAP – Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the ruling was “sad, but not surprising.”
“Despite this legal travesty, [Robinson] can do no more harm to kids. He remains behind bars. But when bishops take advantage of the archaic statute of limitations, serial child sexual predators often keep hurting kids again and again,” she said.