According to Christianity Today, much of the pending lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) was tossed out due to a technicality:
A judge has dismissed most of the civil lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), days after it was amended to add names and charges... The judge ruled that victims didn't sue in time before the statute of limitations had expired" (//link)
Below is ABC's Greta Kreuz's report:
What's not clear is the way forward for the plaintiffs. According to Susan Burke, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, they knew in advance the legal hurdles they faced in getting around the statute of limitations applicable to most of their clients. While it was possible, it apparently had a high probability of failure:
We (the victims and the lawyers) all knew about the statute issue at the outset. But fighting for justice means doing so even against known obstacles. We had a conspiracy theory to overcome the statute but the Court rejected it. The victims are all brave and courageous people whose willingness to fight against evil has already made a difference in the world. Also, please realize going forward with a civil lawsuit does not in any way prevent criminal actions – perhaps may even make it more likely. And please keep praying, as we think the Court erred, and will be appealing her ruling" (//link)
In addition, since two of the plaintiffs are reportedly still well within the borders of an expired statute of limitations, the suit is not dead in the legal waters. Not yet, anyways. An extra complication for the plaintiffs exists, however, because the two remaining plaintiffs live in Virgina while the lawsuit is filed in Maryland. All the technical legalities makes this case extremely complicated. Burke has already committed to filing an appeal since the judge may but not must dismiss the case based upon the expired statute of limitations alone. Also, as Kreuz mentioned above, a criminal investigation may be underway, hardly a sign for rejoicing so far as the defense is concerned.
A few observations, if I may.
First, to have the large majority of the plaintiffs dismissed in a class action lawsuit cannot be viewed as anything other than legally troubling. This really is a huge setback for the plaintiffs. While Burke is appealing the judge's ruling, surely the plaintiffs are presently struggling to find encouragement to believe they might succeed in their lawful suit.
Second, while this setback may be viewed as an initial success for the defense, at best it only exists as a legal success not a moral one. The fact is, when it comes to the sinful nature of the criminal acts and/or civil breaches alleged by the plaintiffs, the question for us is not when the alleged actions took place, but whether the alleged actions took place. While legally, SGM and many of the alleged defendants may ultimately be considered neither legally guilty nor civilly liable because of a statute of limitations written into our law codes, there is no such statute of limitations written into God's. The bottom line is, we want to know if these immoral acts took place not necessarily when they took place.
Again, when criminal acts and civil breaches took place may have legitimate legal stipulations such as were argued by SGM's defense and accepted by the court. However, if these men either performed these atrocious acts on little children, or saw to it in some way the alleged perpetrators were concealed from public justice, then we're unmoved whether a statute of limitations is expired or not. They remain morally culpable even if they are not legally chargeable.
Third, I intend to present the Resolution on Sexual Abuse of Children to the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas, June 11-12 as planned. Nothing is changed. We must dig our ecclesial heels into the dirt and say "No more. Not on our watch!" when it comes to the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health of our little children.