Notice seeks potential victims in sex abuse suit

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Associated Press

Posted on February 19, 2013 at 10:01 AM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Lexington attorneys have posted a legal notice seeking any potential victims of child sex abuse at a city-sponsored program with the goal of bringing the long-delayed federal lawsuit to a conclusion.

The notice, posted Friday in the Herald-Leader, urges anyone who was abused while participating in a former program called Micro-City Government to join the federal lawsuit that has been pending in court for nearly 15 years.

The newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/15pd8l3 ) that the lawsuit claims that the Urban County Government and former city officials funded the program even though they knew that the program's director, Ron Berry, was sexually abusing children in the program.

Berry started Micro-City Government in 1969 to introduce disadvantaged youths to public service. Berry was convicted in 2000 of 12 counts of sodomy of a victim younger than 16. The city has settled two other lawsuits related to the abuse for a total of $2.85 million.

Attorney Sharon Morris, who represents several people who say they were abused by Berry and others, said the legal notice is possibly one of the last steps needed before the case can go to trial.

"Once we get this notice out, the court will have to decide what's next and when the timing will be," she said. "The judge ... has indicated before that this case needs to be over and done with."

The lawsuit was first filed in 1998 and at one time more than 150 alleged victims were named as plaintiffs. But a judge ruled in 2009 that anyone who was older than 19 when the case was filed had exceeded the statute of limitations and could not stake a claim.

Most plaintiffs were dismissed from the case because they were deemed too old. Morris said between her law firm and others, 20 people remain as plaintiffs. She said that due to the statute-of-limitations ruling, it was unlikely that the recent legal notice will produce any eligible plaintiffs, but they wanted to put out the notice as a good faith effort to find anyone who might have a claim.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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