Senator Peterson’s Plea to PA Law Makers

October 5, 2011

Dear Representative,

In 2007, the Delaware General Assembly passed the “Child Victims’ Act,” repealing the two-year statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases – and creating a two-year “window” during which victims in older cases could sue their abusers. As a lifelong Catholic, authoring and sponsoring the Child Victims’ Act was a difficult decision for me because I knew that a great many of the lawsuits would be filed against my own church. Difficult as it was, I knew that it was the right thing to do.

Child sexual abuse is an epidemic in this country. One in four girls – and one in six boys – is sexually abused as a child. The average age of the victims is nine. The abuse has devastating effects on victims for their entire lives. We, as a society, pay the price for the abuse – instead of the abusers and the institutions that hid them and enabled them.

I certainly understand that some members of the House Judiciary Committee might be reluctant to address this issue because the Catholic Church is a powerful force in Pennsylvania (as it is in Delaware). But I can tell you from first-hand experience that the Church’s threats and dire predictions are empty. Not one school, church, or program was closed in the Diocese of Wilmington as a result of the Child Victims’ Act. The same is true throughout the country where lawsuits have been filed. Please give the victims a voice by holding public hearings on HB 832 and HB 878. They had no voice as little children being abused – but you can give them a chance to tell their stories and appeal for justice.


Karen E. Peterson, Senator

10 thoughts on “Senator Peterson’s Plea to PA Law Makers

  1. Salve on wounds…feels good to read that.

    Great letter because it was based on actions.

    Thank you Senator Peterson.

  2. It was not as sweet or fair a deal for the Wilmington Diocese as Senator Peterson suggests. One accuser was allegedly abused 50 years ago and wanted three million dollars, not from the diocese, but from a parish. Once parishes are targeted it becomes unfair as the people in the pews are not guilty of anything and are just as horrified by clerical sex abuse as I am. Money from parishioners go to upkeep for the parish’s laypeople who committed no crimes. It is moreover used for charitable agencies of the church. Much damage was done to the whole Wilmington diocese. I am for a two year window duriing which the criminal statute of limitations is suspended. The priests who are the perrpetrators should be punished but almost never are punished or sequestered from society. Just innocent lay people. I am a longtime advocate for victims, was a citizen of Delaware, and now a resident of the Philadelphia suburbs and would support a cap on monetary judgments. That choice was not given to Delaware. Beware of legislators who come bearing gifts. Andy Tracy

    1. There is no reason why the offending priests can’t be laicized and told now they have to make their own way, like when someone violates an oath of office however the catholic church shows the abusers compassion and kick the victims to the curb.

    2. Andy , A congregation of sheep breeds a hierarchy of wolves, the faithful need to grow a pair and hold their leaders responsible. What would your recommended cap be for the victims who have suffered for years and what about those VICTIMS who did not survive what dollar value can you place on their lives ?

    3. Then maybe it is time for the people in the pews to speak up and ask for disclosure of where the money goes rather than just blindly sacrifice and give. Parish Finance Committee = Parishioners hand-picked by the Pastor

    4. Andy,
      If you believe that the money you give is for upkeep and charitable donations, then you are misled.

      The innocent lay people participated in this mess…you funded it, you sat in your pews in denial, and then when slapped with what happened, yelled, “But, we didn’t know!”

      Well, now you do…and it’s time to pay the piper.

      Unfair to the people? This is exactly why the rcc is so screwed up…training their sheep that they are the victims. The hierarchy should be encouraging the laity to pony up the money to help victims, but they can’t because the laity will want to know more than what the hierarchy is willing to tell.
      This is classic catholic crap…”I support victims, as long as it doesn’t infringe on my little world.” The hierarchy is using the laity as well. Staying in that victim role keeps the hierarchy powerful and corrupt.

  3. No, they (the sexually abused) had no voice except for my voice since 2001. When my husband and I left the RCC on our 50th wedding anniversary.. It’s been a long haul to put it mildly. More of you should see the “writing on the wall” and LEAVE,, as we did.

    Many have read my blogs and agreed, a few have diagreed but mostly the people in the pews don’t give a damn, they want everything to stay the same. Well, life isn’t like that. Jesus said , “that there will be a time when everything that was hidden would be revealed ” Well it has beenrevealed “big time” and nobody’s listening to Jesus.

    I don’t want the Catholic’s to change, except to change from being a Roman Catholic. to believing in Jesus Christ , instead of the institution that has brain washed billions since the beginning of Christianityt. The RCC’s are not doing God’s will. lEAVE AND FIND OUT!~

  4. I practice my faith the way I want. If I thought other churches had a monopoly on sanctity, I would be back to square one: a child believing in everything the RCC told me. I want to live by my conscience and accept what I think is right and reject what I think is wrong. Mostly, I want to live a moral life.

    An important goal of a moral life to me is to speak out against the abuse of power that the RCC is still getting away with. How can anyone listen to an RCC priest, bishop, cardinal, pope and take them seriously. I am very unpoular with many of my friends and relatives because they know my stand on the hierarchy of the RCC.

    I firmly believe that change will come in the RCC. It will be very hard for us Catholics when our “leaders” are finally brought to justice in the civil courts. It is then that we must remain courageous. Clericalism, and pride and the lack of care for the ordinary person is what brought them to this sad day. It will be then that we courageous people must take up the task of rebuilding our church in the image of Jesus.

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