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Sex Suit Against Covenant House Founder Dismissed

August 16, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ A judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the founder of the Covenant House youth shelter, saying it is too late for a man to sue the priest for allegedly seducing him in his youth.

Darryl Bassile, 31, said in court papers the Rev. Bruce Ritter had sexual contact with him several times when he was 14.

Bassile, who lives in New Jersey, said he arrived at Covenant House a troubled, homeless and sexually abused youth in March 1973. He said Ritter, purporting to counsel him spiritually and emotionally, convinced him the contact was part of his counseling.

Ritter, who founded and ran the shelter for 22 years, was forced to leave two years ago after allegations that he had sex with some of the institution’s young guests. He has denied any wrongdoing.

On Monday, he was reported to have accepted a transfer to a Roman Catholic diocese in India.

In a decision released Thursday, State Supreme Court Justice Harold Baer said the statute of limitations had run out by the time Bassile filed suit last year.

The law suspends the statute of limitations until an injured minor becomes an adult, Baer said. In Bassile’s case, it started running in 1977 and his claim had to be filed by 1983, the judge said.

Bassile claimed he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, with long- delayed psychological damage. He asked Baer to extend the statute of limitations.

Baer declined, saying it wasn’t his place to do so. He suggested Bassile try an appeals court or state lawmakers.

″I reach this conclusion without enthusiasm,″ said Baer, adding that he was ″aware that the plaintiff asserts that he was the victim of a most grievous wrong.″

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