Archive for category Statutes of Limitations

Pennsylvania legislators abandon bill to extend rights of child sex-abuse victims / Philly.com

“‘It’s disappointing,’ said John Salveson, a victim founder of the Foundation to End Child Abuse, an advocacy group. ‘I just don’t know what it’s going to take to get these legislators to do the right thing.'”

A controversial proposal to extend the civil statute of limitations for child sex-abuse victims appeared to collapse Tuesday (Oct. 24), after supporters said the House was unlikely to move an amended version of the bill or reintroduce the original measure. With little chance of its passing, they said, they will try to revive it when the Assembly reconvenes next year.

“With little chance of its passing, they said, they will try to revive it when the Assembly reconvenes next year.

By Maria Panaritis and Karen Langley, Philly.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Catholic Church groups fight bills to revive old sex abuse cases / National Public Radio

“… whether it’s a coach or a relative or a priest,” no one who abuses a child, or allows such abuse, or shields the perpetrator  should “get off scot-free.”

It’s important to say right upfront that this isn’t a story about pedophile priests.

“Bridie Farrell is Roman Catholic, but she says it was her speedskating coach who sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager.

“‘It happened at his house, in his car, in his hotel room,’ Farrell says.

“Farrell did what a lot of kids do when they’re molested: She kept silent. But 18 years later, when she was 31 years old, she went public with her story.

“The problem is that there’s a ticking clock. In a lot of states, including New York, where Farrell was assaulted, if you don’t report a rape or file a civil lawsuit fast enough, the perpetrator — whether it’s a coach or relative or a priest — gets off scot-free.”

By Brian Mann, All Things Considered, National Public Radio — Click here to read and listen to the rest of this story.

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Pennsylvania Senate committee votes to alter child sex-abuse bill / Philly.com

A Senate committee on Tuesday (Jun. 28) voted to remove the most controversial provision of a bill that would let child sex-abuse victims sue their attackers.

“By a near unanimous vote, the Judiciary Committee passed an amendment that bars the law from being applied retroactively, a move that would have enabled lawsuits by victims who were abused as far back as the 1970s.”

By Maria Panaritis, Philly.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Swiss Catholic Church sex abuse victims may seek reparations / SwissInfo.ch

“Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Switzerland may now seek financial compensation and other forms of reparation in cases that have exceeded the statute of limitations. This follows the launch of an independent sexual abuse commission. However, payments are likely to remain symbolic.”

The fight against sexual abuse within the Catholic Church took a step forwards on Tuesday (Jun. 21) with the official launch of CECAR, a sexual abuse commission that is ‘neutral and independent of the authorities of the Catholic Church.’

“CECAR is the result of almost six years’ negotiations and agreement between victims’ groups, parliamentarians and the Swiss Bishops Conference. The initiative is aimed at victims who were minors at the time of the incidents, but whose cases have encountered legal time limits.

‘Exceeding the statute of limitations does not wipe out suffering,’ said Charles Morerod, the Bishop for Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg at a news conference in Lausanne. He was one of the co-signatories of an accord in 2015 between the Catholic Church and the victims’ group SAPEC that led to the creation of CECAR.”

By Simon Bradley, SwussInfo.ch — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Pennsylvania Catholic church using ‘mafia-like’ tactics to fight sex abuse bill / The Guardian

“Church accused of using ‘mob boss approach’ to pressure lawmakers who support bill that would give victims of sexual abuse more time to sue abusers.”

The Catholic church in Pennsylvania has been accused of employing ‘mafia-like’ tactics in a campaign to put pressure on individual Catholic lawmakers who support state legislation that would give victims of sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers.

“The lobbying campaign against the legislation is being led by Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput, a staunch conservative who recently created a stir after inadvertently sending an email to a state representative Jamie Santora, in which he accused the lawmaker of ‘betraying’ the church and said Santora would suffer “consequences” for his support of the legislation. The email was also sent to a senior staff member in Chaput’s office, who was apparently the only intended recipient.

“The email has infuriated some Catholic lawmakers, who say they voted their conscience in support of the legislation on behalf of sexual abuse victims. One Republican legislator, Mike Vareb, accused the archbishop of using mafia-style tactics.”

By Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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End the statute of limitations on child sex abuse / Chicago Tribune

At 53, Scott Cross had waited more than three decades to talk to anyone about the incident in which, he said, his high school wrestling coach sexually molested him.

“By the time he shared his story — with family, prosecutors and then to a packed courtroom — his alleged sexual abuser, Dennis Hastert, had escaped prosecution. Yes, the former coach and U.S. House Speaker was prosecuted, but on a relatively minor financial violation — a wrinkle in the high-profile case that has renewed debate in Illinois and other states over the statute of limitations for cases involving sexual abuse of children.”

Editorial by Chicago Tribune — Click here to read the rest of this editorial

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Sex abuse and the Catholic Church: Why is it still a story? / The New York Times

I have interviewed many survivors of child sexual abuse over many years, but this was the first time I had ever interviewed a survivor who was also a politician. State Representative Mark Rozzi sat behind his office desk at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. As he spoke he fidgeted with a small figurine he kept on his desk — a little dog with four heads, all snarling — a gift from a fellow survivor. We were discussing his long fight trying to pass legislation to make it easier for survivors to press charges and file lawsuits against their abusers.

“Well into the interview I asked him to tell me what had happened to him as a child. ‘The abridged version,’ I said. I had read his story elsewhere, but needed to hear it directly from him, even though I knew it would not play a big part in the article I planned to write. I figured that as a politician, he would have a well-practiced, pithy rendition.

“Twenty-five minutes of unrelenting trauma later, we had still gotten only as far as high school. Then, just as Mr. Rozzi was saying, “I’m going to tell you something I have never talked about to a reporter” — at that very moment — there was a knock at the door and his executive assistant came in to tell us that another legislator was waiting in the vestibule. Interview over.

“As I rushed to gather up my notebook, laptop and recorder, I realized I had no idea what he was about to reveal, but I had just gotten the answer to another question I am often asked: Why does the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church never seem to go away? Why is it still a story? It has been 31 years since National Catholic Reporter, an independent Catholic publication, broke the first story, about a serial abuser in Louisiana. It has been 22 years since I reported my first article about abusive priests (out on an Indian pueblo in New Mexico, for The Washington Post). Why is the news media still covering this?

“The answer lies with the victims.”

By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Bishop Murphy’s comments on SOL reform are only latest Church salvo against abuse survivors

The Catholic Church has long sought to deny victims of clergy sexual abuse one of their only means of seeking justice—civil lawsuits. By fighting reform of state statute of limitations (SOL) laws, the Church helps prevent survivors from bringing suit against perpetrators and those who cover up the abuse.

Rockville Centre, N.Y., Diocese Bishop William Murphy’s comments in a letter to Long Island parishioners earlier this month are only the latest salvo by the Church against SOL reform.

In fact, the Catholic Church, “through its bishops and state Catholic conferences, is the most powerful institution opposing better child protection legislation in the country, bar none,” according to educator and reform advocate Sister Maureen Turlish.

Murphy’s letter, reprinted in many parish bulletins, sought to influence Catholic voters during midterm elections held Nov. 4. SOL reform was not on the New York ballot; nevertheless, Murphy took the opportunity to say The Child Victims Act, SOL reform legislation sponsored by New York State Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, “seeks to penalize only the Catholic Church for past crimes of child sex abuse.” He said the bill “must be recognized for what it is. Those who support that should be opposed by those of us who know how effectively and permanently the Church has remedied that horrific scourge of the last decade.”

SOL laws are essentially deadlines beyond which victims cannot bring civil suits and prosecutors cannot bring charges. But such suits usually are not brought for many years. Studies have shown that the memory of abuse can be suppressed even into adulthood, and as the crime is steeped in secrecy and shame, decades could pass before a victim seeks justice.

“A vast body of research indicates that the effects of childhood sexual abuse often span a lifetime. The opportunity to seek justice should last just as long,” attorney and writer Jon Wertheim concluded in a 2011 CNN column during the Penn State and Syracuse sports abuse scandals.

Actually, the Markey bill, like other SOL reform laws, does not single out the Catholic Church. The bill covers all private institutions and includes families, where most child sexual abuse occurs. The Catholic Church, however, has fought SOL reform in nearly every state where such laws have been proposed, including New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware, even hiring lobbyists and public relations firms in some states to bolster letters to parishioners and admonitions from the pulpit.

This opposition is especially scandalous considering the Church has shielded pedophile priests from prosecution and refused to discipline bishops involved in covering up crimes.

Murphy, who was accused of shielding pedophile priests while vicar general of the Archdiocese of Boston, has been fighting the Markey bill since 2009, and called it an “annual threat” in his letter. As for how “effectively and permanently” the Church has dealt with the “horrific scourge,” Murphy is still a bishop, even though the Massachusetts attorney general reported he “placed a higher priority on preventing scandal and providing support to alleged abusers than on protecting children from sexual abuse.” Revelations of clergy sexual abuse also continue to range from Ireland to Australia, and because of suppressed memory and other factors, we may not know for years whether the Church’s present child protection policies prevent child abuse.

Proponents of such reform, such as Yeshiva University law professor Marci Hamilton, have called SOL reform “the primary front for child sex abuse victims.” She has said that, “if the statute of limitations has expired, there won’t be any justice.”

Always on the moral high ground, the Catholic Church should be first to want justice for clergy sexual abuse survivors. Justice, according to the Church’s catechism is “the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.” Fr. James Connell, a Wisconsin canon lawyer and a founder of Catholic Whistleblowers, which attempts to expose the cover-up of abuse by Catholic Church leadership, has applied this sentiment to the clergy sexual abuse scandal. He says, “Only by living in the truth, the complete truth, can human action and speech generate justice and healing. Without truth there can be no justice and without justice, no healing.” Connell first made these remarks during the 2012 national conference of the Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful®.

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First clergy abuse settlement with archdiocese reached under new law / Star Tribune

This story reports the first settlement reached under new Minnesota law that extends time allowed to bring lawsuits in child sexual abuse cases.

First clergy abuse settlement with archdiocese reached under new law

More than 40 years after being sexually abused by a Catholic priest in St. Paul, Jon Jaker claimed a groundbreaking victory for himself and other abuse victims Wednesday (Aug. 20).

Accompanied by his 84-year-old mother, Jaker, 54, announced he had reached a financial settlement with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the first payout under a new law that temporarily extends the time in which such clergy abuse lawsuits can be brought to court.”

By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Catholic Church Lobbies to Avert Sex Abuse Lawsuits / Los Angeles Times

At the height of the clergy sex-abuse scandal in 2002, Catholic leaders stayed silent as California lawmakers passed a landmark bill that gave hundreds of accusers extra time to file civil lawsuits. The consequences were costly. Now, state legislators are considering a bill that would give some alleged victims more time to sue. But this time, the church is waging a pitched battle in Sacramento to quash it.” By Ashley Powers, Los Angeles Times

Read this entire article by clicking here.

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