Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Courier Times


Posted: Friday, July 1, 2016

Under a controversial and now emasculated bill passed by a state Senate committee, future victims of child sexual abuse will have until the age of 50 to sue their attackers. Former victims would be out of luck, however.

That’s because most members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to remove a provision of a bill that would have altered the statute of limitations, enabling victims who were attacked as far back as the 1970s to sue their abusers. The alteration comes in the wake of enormous pressure on lawmakers from the Catholic Church, which is worried about a spate of crippling lawsuits, although the official reason for Church opposition is based on a constitutional argument.

Most committee members bought that argument, at least publicly. Among those who rejected the view is state attorney general candidate Sen. John Rafferty, who was endorsed for AG by the Judiciary Committee chairman. “I am Catholic,” Rafferty said, calling priest sex-abuse and church cover-ups outlined in a series of grand jury reports over the last 10 years both “abhorrent and disgusting,” and declaring that he saw no constitutional issues with the bill.

Nonetheless, the altered bill now goes to the full Senate. The amended version would extend to age 50 the civil statute of limitations for future victims. It also would abolish the criminal statute of limitations, enabling future victims to pursue prosecution regardless of age…