Long-Missing Pa. Woman Case Dismissed
PITTSBURGH (AP) – A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a woman who ran away as a teenager and lived with a school security guard for a decade, agreeing with a lower court judge that the case was filed after the legal deadline.
Tanya Kach resurfaced in March 2006 after secretly living with Thomas Hose, whom she ran away with in February 1996 when she was 14 and he was 38.
Kach, now 27, said that the relationship changed soon after she moved into his bedroom at his parents’ McKeesport home and that she stayed only because he threatened her. Kach said she rarely left the house and was even forced to use a bucket for a toilet.
Hose, 51, is serving five to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault and other charges in 2007.
Kach sued Hose, the McKeesport School District, local police and Hose’s former employer claiming they failed to detect and prevent her inappropriate relationship with Hose or did not adequately investigate the relationship and her disappearance. She claimed her civil rights were violated.
In its ruling Wednesday, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said while the case was unusual, Kach had opportunities to come forward before she turned 18. The ruling upheld U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster’s dismissal of the suit in Sept. 2008. The courts found that the statute of limitations to sue had expired two years after Kach turned 18.
“Kach suffered an indescribable ordeal that essentially stripped her of her adolescence and young adulthood. Her unique circumstances notwithstanding, we are compelled to conclude that Kach forewent her right to relief in federal court by waiting too long to assert her rights,’’ the court wrote.
Kach claimed that her limited mental capacity during her time with Hose should have been factored into determining when the statute of limitations should come into play. She contended that would have been two years from when she came forward.
The court disagreed.
“ ... her psychological problems, while certainly substantial, do not constitute the sort of incapacity the law requires to delay accrual of her claims,’’ the court wrote.
Kach’s attorney, Lawrence Fisher, said she was disappointed but would not appeal.
“Instead, Ms. Kach will now turn her attention away from this litigation and seek to inform the public about her plight through other, yet determined, means,’’ he said Thursday. He declined to elaborate.
The Associated Press normally does not name victims of sex crimes, but Kach has spoken with reporters about her experience.
In April, Kach reached a confidential settlement with Hose’s former security company, St. Moritz Security Services Inc.