Posts Tagged statute of limitations

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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No statute of limitations for abuse / York Daily Record

The allegations contained in a grand jury report about child sexual abuse in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese are beyond appalling. They are horrifying.

“For decades, the grand jury found, priests in the diocese sexually abused hundreds of children. Two bishops covered up the abuse, transferring priests accused of abusing children to other parishes. The grand jury found a shocking, and documented, pattern of criminal behavior that is simply unimaginable. That an institution that claims moral authority would behave so immorally is more than unsettling. It is terrifying.

“And yet, that wasn’t even the worst of the grand jury report. The worst is that, despite the evidence, authorities and victims had no recourse. The statute of limitations has expired for prosecuting any of the cases and for victims to seek recompense in civil court.”

By the York Daily Record Editorial Board on YDR.com — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.

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As Pope visit nears, U.S. sex victims say Church remains obstacle to justice / Reuters

 … When Pope Francis makes his first visit to the United States this month, he will find that wounds from the U.S. Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal are still festering – and draining its finances – more than a decade after it burst onto the national stage.

“The tensions are being played out in courtrooms and state legislatures, where the Church is using its legal and political clout to oppose bills that would extend the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse. A statute of limitations forbids prosecutors or plaintiffs from taking legal action after a certain number of years.

“The pontiff has vowed to root out ‘the scourge’ of sex abuse from the Roman Catholic Church, and this year created a Vatican tribunal to judge clergy accused of such crimes.

“But U.S. victims’ advocates contend the biggest obstacle they face in giving victims more time to report abuse remains the Church itself, and want the pope to change that stance.”

By Scott Malone, Reuters — Click here to read the rest of this story

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Catholic Church fights push to allow more abuse claims in N.Y. / Associated Press

The Roman Catholic Church is opposing efforts in New York to allow sex abuse accusers to file lawsuits after the statute of limitations has expired, warning of dire financial consequences if the state allows plaintiffs to sue decades after the purported abuse occurred.

“Currently in New York, victims of child sex abuse have until five years after they turn 18 to file a lawsuit. The same statute of limitations applies to most child sex crimes.

“A bill pending in the state Assembly would eliminate the statute of limitations on abuse cases going forward — and create a one-year window to allow anyone to file lawsuits no matter when the abuse occurred. Supporters gathered Wednesday in Albany to push for the bill.”

By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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A Chilean diocese is in an uproar over a bishop who defended an abuser / Cruxnow.com

A decision by Pope Francis to assign a bishop in Chile linked to one of the country’s most notorious clerical sex abusers as the new leader of a local diocese has locals gathering signatures to try to block the appointment.

“Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, previously Chile’s military chaplain, was appointed in mid-January as the new bishop of the small Osorno diocese and is scheduled to be installed on March 21 …

“Since the Vatican announced the transfer of Barros to Osorno, laity in the diocese, as well as clergy and even local politicians, have written to the papal envoy in Chile to void the transfer. More than 1,000 signatures were sent to Rome, but to date there’s been no signal the move is under reconsideration.”

By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story. And in Utah, “Bill removing statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases passes legislature.”

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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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Long Island bishop claims proposed bill penalizes ‘only the Catholic church’ / National Catholic Reporter

Bishop William Murphy of the diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., has written a letter to Catholics on Long Island advising them that a proposed bill in the New York State Assembly, called The Child Victims Act, ‘seeks to penalize only the Catholic Church for past crimes of child sex abuse must also be recognized for what it is’ …

“The Child Victims Act (which is also known as the ‘Markey Bill’ because it is sponsored by State Assemblyperson Margaret Markey) would serve to protect children by removing the statute of limitations for crimes of sexual abuse of children and minors. It would also open a one-year period for victims previously shut out by New York’s outdated statutes of limitations to bring forth charges in civil court.”

By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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