Catholics who donate directly or indirectly (through their parish giving) to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference might be surprised by how their money is being invested. The PA Catholic Conference, the public affairs arm of the Catholic Church in our Commonwealth, actively lobbies against reforming the Statute of Limitations (SOL) for child sex abuse. To be more specific, they hire lobbyists to visit our Representatives and Senators in Harrisburg on their behalf. Money talks and politicians only hear one side. Children can’t afford lobbyists.
I wanted to read about the Conference’s stance on this issue, but I couldn’t find it anywhere on their web site. Why wouldn’t they want to inform the faithful about a key point on their agenda? Why are they hiding this? While I certainly support their pro-life lobbying, I also think children deserve to be protected after they are born.
The current Statute of Limitations (SOL) for child sex abuse puts kids at risk. While the SOL was improved 10 years ago, those reforms were not retroactive. They only applied to future crimes. That leaves child predators, who were never prosecuted, free to live in our communities.
For example, think about the priests whose crimes were covered up by the Archdiocese until the SOL ran out. After the scandal was exposed, they were removed from ministry. Where are they living now? They are not registered and predators don’t retire from abusing. But this goes well beyond the clergy. What about the child predators from other walks of life – the family members, the coaches, etc.? These lobbyists are helping to give them a free pass in order to protect their client’s assets.
Several states abolished the SOL for childhood sex abuse and created “window legislation.” This legislation opens a two year window during which past victims (whose abuse previously fell outside the SOL) can come forward to name their abuser and press charges.
The “institutional” Church has many financially-driven reasons to seek to prevent this reform. I specify the “institutional” Church because I think it’s a very different group of people than the Catholic Church that Jesus created.
It’s time Catholic families demand their children’s safety be put first. We are asking for your voice and your prayers. Please spread the word on your social media, in Church, at your children’s schools and let your legislators know where you stand on this issue.
There is no SOL for murder in PA. Why is there one for child sex abuse?
There is No Civil SOL for child sex abuse in:
Alaska – none for felony sex abuse/assault of minor, felony exploitation of minor
Connecticut – none if events forming the civil claim led to conviction of first-degree aggravated sexual or sexual assault
Delaware – none as to perpetrator, or as to gross negligence against employer
Florida – none for sexual batteries committed against victims under 16 years old
Illinois – none
Maine – none
Minnesota – none for victims abused under age of 18
Guam – none for sex crimes against those under age of 18
No Criminal SOL for Certain Child Sex Crimes:
Window Legislation Enacted:
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape does a great job of explaining our confusing current laws with this infographic.