Recent revelations about the systemic sexual abuse of children in sporting institutions has many legal scholars and children’s rights advocates lobbying to get the statue of limitations on reporting such heinous crimes extended or lifted altogether. This is the right thing to do. The fact that in some states, the statute of limitations to make legal claims against abusers ends two years after the victim turns 18 is outrageous.
I left the Catholic church when I was in high school. I’m proud to say my mother left the Catholic church after the child sex abuse scandal broke a decade ago. I have many issues with the Catholic church, but the story I heard on NPR yesterday shocked even little jaded old me.
Most of the story is about legislative efforts to extend or repeal the statutes of limitations on sex abuse claims. In 2003, New Jersey offered a one-year window during which the statute of limitations was waived and other states are considering similar measures. But the Catholic church is against it.
Why? It’s not because they deny the allegations. Nobody in the church is claiming these heinous, despicable acts never took place. They’re not saying the people making the claims are libeling the church with false accusations of priestly misconduct. On the contrary. In fact, in a rare moment of bizarre transparency, the executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference testified against the legislation saying, “The reality is this proposal simply fosters lawsuits.” You don’t say?
So there you have it. The Catholic church is against child sex abuse victims’ rights because it’s bad for the bottom line. When New Jersey cracked the window open for one year, 800 lawsuits were filed. The church know if the statue of limitations preventing victims from finally seeing some justice goes away, they will be sued out of existence.