facebook
twitter
search
search

Catholic Church fights old abuse suits

June 14, 2012 at 1:06 PM
| License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- The Catholic Church is battling proposals by advocates for victims of sexual abuse to loosen statutes of limitations across the United States, lawyers say.

The statutes often bar victims from seeking prosecution of their abusers as adults. Marci Hamilton, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, says changing the statute of limitations "has turned out to be the primary front for child sex abuse victims."

Hamilton, who represents plaintiffs in sexual abuse suits, says limits have already been lifted or eased in more than 30 states in criminal prosecutions of some type of abuse.

"Even when you have an institution admitting they knew about the abuse, the perpetrator admitting that he did it, and corroborating evidence, if the statute of limitations has expired, there won't be any justice," Hamilton told The New York Times.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has lobbied hard against such measures, arguing retroactive charges are aimed at bankrupting the church rather than seeking justice. In Colorado and New York, the church has hired high-priced lobbying and public relations firms to aid in the fight against such bills, while in other states bishops have personally pressed lawmakers to defer them.

Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, testified before the state Legislature in January in opposition to a proposal to abolish the statute of limitations in civil cases.

"How can an institution defend itself against a claim that is 40, 50 or 60 years old? Statutes of limitations exist because witnesses die and memories fade," Brannigan told the Legislature. "This bill would not protect a single child."

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
Greeks vote overwhelmingly to reject creditors' bailout
Russian resupply spacecraft docks onto ISS to deliver needed provisions
Maine reports first fireworks fatality since 2012 legalization
Third disturbance in four days erupts at Arizona prison
Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa targeted heavily in airstrikes