HARRISBURG — A Missouri man claims the Diocese of Harrisburg and two of its bishops enabled two priests decades ago to sexually assault him as a child or worked to cover up the abuse.

Donald Asbee, now 67, attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Dauphin County in the 1960s. It was during that time that the Revs. Raymond Dougherty and Walter Sempko sexually assaulted him, according to a lawsuit he filed Monday in Dauphin County Court.

“I would often pass out," he said. The sexual assaults were “well-orchestrated, as though I was receiving some sort of sacrament, and I was well on my way to total disassociation,” Asbee said at a news conference Tuesday inside the state Capitol.

The question of whether child sex-abuse survivors should be able to wait decades to sue their abusers or the institutions that employed them has plagued the legislature and the courts for years. Pennsylvania law gives victims until age 30 to sue for childhood sex abuse.

Asbee’s suit takes a new tack. It comes after a panel of Superior Court judges ruled that another decades-old abuse-claims case involving an accuser from the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, Renee Rice, wasn’t barred by the statute of limitations from proceeding to a jury trial.

Rather than citing the sex abuse as the linchpin of the suit, Rice and Asbee each sued the church for fraud and conspiracy. (The priests Asbee accused have since died.)

Their attorney, Richard Serbin, argued in court documents in Asbee’s case that there was no way his client could have reasonably known about the diocese’s actions until the release last year of a scathing grand jury report chronicling decades of abuse and related cover-up in six of the state’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses.

Prior to that report and related news coverage, “this information was known only to the diocese and each of its bishops and hidden away in the ‘secret archives’ of the diocese,” Serbin wrote in Asbee’s suit. The suit names the Diocese of Harrisburg, former Bishop Kevin Rhoades, and current Bishop Ronald Gainer as defendants.

Matt Haverstick, an attorney representing the Diocese of Harrisburg, said Tuesday that he had not yet had a chance to review the lawsuit but believes the diocese and Gainer have “worked very hard in the past couple of years to try to help survivors.” As to the fraud and conspiracy argument that seeks to overcome the statute of limitations hurdle, he said, “I don’t think that legal theory holds water,” predicting that the decision in the Rice case will be overturned on appeal.

A spokesman for the diocese said in a statement that Gainer “had no knowledge of the priests mentioned in [the Asbee] lawsuit’s actions until research was conducted during the grand jury process.”

Regardless of what happens in the Rice and Asbee cases, arguments surrounding the statute of limitations are expected to surface in other venues this fall.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in September over whether someone who hasn’t been charged with a crime can be named in a grand jury report stemming from a child sex-abuse investigation in Franklin County. Details of the case are scarce, as many of the court documents remain under seal.

Separately, the legislature must decide whether and how to deal with the statute of limitations when it returns in mid-September. The Republican-controlled House this year passed measures that would give older victims a chance to sue and make other changes suggested by last year’s grand jury report. Those bills are now before the GOP-controlled Senate.

Staff writer Angela Couloumbis contributed to this article.