No time limit on child sex abuse charges
Posted By QMI AGENCY
A bill making its way through the Connecticut legislature that would eliminate the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases has prompted state bishops to issue a letter to churchgoers that warns of parish bankruptcies and says in bold letters: "We must stop this bill now."
House Bill 5473 could be put to a vote in the next week or two. Under existing law, complainants have until they're 48 to file a lawsuit. Bill 5473 would retroactively scrap the limitation, but the bill includes amendments to try to prevent frivolous lawsuits.
"Over the past several years in states that have even temporarily eliminated the statutes, it has caused the bankruptcy of at least seven dioceses," says the letter, signed by three bishops and posted on the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference's website.
"House Bill 5473 would make Connecticut the only state without a statute of limitations. This bill would put all church institutions, including your parish, at risk.
"The nature of bankruptcy litigation puts all assets at risk, even if your parish has had no past incidents, reports or allegations of child abuse," the letter continues.
"That is why it is important for you to join other Catholics across Connecticut in opposing this legislation."
The letter then outlines the different ways the church in Connecticut has worked to address the problem.
"As you know, in addition to instituting a zero tolerance policy, we have compassionately reached out to victims and their families through counseling, prayerful apology and considerable financial settlements," the letter says.
"We have also created one of the most effective child protection programs in the country, and we are constantly reviewing it for improvement."
The bishops also warn that a small group of trial lawyers looking to earn a profit will help launch the lawsuits if the bill passes.
In conclusion, the letter says, "The bottom line is that this is terrible public policy, discriminatory by its nature, and a huge threat to us all. Most importantly, it does nothing to protect the state's children because it delays reporting."
Bishops Henry J. Mansell, William E. Lori and Michael R. Cote signed the letter.
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