Friday, December 18, 2009

The Junk Science of Repressed and Recovered Memory Still Lives in Illinois

M.K. v. L.C. and N.G., Holy Family Catholic Church, formerly known as St. Mary's Catholic Church, and St. Patrick's Catholic Church and Daniel R. Jenky, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, a Religious Corporation, and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, a Religious Corporation, Defendants, 387 Ill. App. 3d 1077, 901 N.E.2d 468, 477-478 (2009):
In this case the nature of the claim is one which "by its very nature [is] subject to long-repressed memories." Diocese of Dallas, 379 Ill. App. 3d at 793, 885 N.E.2d at 385, citing Pedigo v. Pedigo, 292 Ill. App. 3d 831, 839, 686 N.E.2d at 1185 (1997). Any statute of repose applicable to incidents of childhood sexual abuse inherently fails to recognize that the nature of the claim is subject to long-repressed memories. Applying the repeal of the statute of repose retroactively to allow plaintiffs to bring suit long after the alleged abuse occurred would correct that problem and bring the current application of the law into line with the nature of the claim.
This opinion, by itself, leaves a theoretical possibility that in a sexual abuse case that is considered on the merits, a trial judge might condemn expert evidence to support a claim of allegedly long-repressed memories as irrelevant, unscientific, unreliable, or, more simply put, as junk science. Let's hope that this possibility materializes (or has materialized) in the courts of the State of Illinois.

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