April 11, 2019
By Steven B. Barrett, Esq.
Last fall we wrote about efforts to change the law to allow survivors of sexual abuse to prosecute their claims in civil court. The bold, proposed legislation to extend the statute of limitations for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of people in power, including Catholic priests, failed to pass last year.
We are happy to report, however, that there are two new measures that could possibly help victims. The first is a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes, and the second is a constitutional amendment that would permit child sex abuse victims to bring lawsuits that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations.
It is encouraging and promising that a portion of our representatives understand the importance of allowing victims and survivors access to justice by providing much needed legal remedies for the physical and emotional suffering endured by victims of sexual abuse. As we have detailed previously, the Catholic Church has started an Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program to compensate victims of clergy sex-abuse. This remains an option for any person who has suffered abuse from members of the clergy. But the Church fund does not afford victims the full breadth of reckoning abusers should face and for which they need to be held accountable.