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Arizona appeals court revives negligence case against Phoenix diocese

Four years ago, Arizona lawmakers opened a temporary window for child sex abuse victims over age 30 to sue for damages.

Now, the state Court of Appeals has revived a case against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix brought by an anonymous plaintiff who was 11 years old in 1979.   

The reversal on appeal may open the door for the plaintiff’s lawyers to scour church records for information on when clergy learned that former priest Joseph Henn was a danger to children.

Henn pleaded guilty to sex crimes in 2021 after local prosecutors extradited him from Italy.

The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the diocese, St. Mark parish and the order of catholic priests Henn was a member of, the Salvatorians.

The suit claims the defendants knew or should have known of sex abuse accusations against their employees yet still let them be around children.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.