Bill to extend sex-abuse suits is 'clear attack on the Church,' Archbishop Chaput charges
June 09, 2016
Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles Chaput has taken a strong public stand against a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for sex-abuse crimes, saying that the legislation is tailored to target the Catholic Church.
"The bill fails to support all survivors of abuse equally, and it’s a clear attack on the Church, her parishes and her people,” the archbishop charged. He warned that the bill, in its current form, could leave parishes and schools open to unlimited liability. At the same time, he observed, the legislation does not allow for the same sort of redress for victims of sexual abuse in public institutions.
The bill-- which was approved in lower house of the Pennsylvania state legislature by an overwhelming vote of 180-15-- would extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of children. It would also allow for retroactive lawsuits, brought by plaintiffs who are currently barred by the statute of limitations. However, retroactive suits against public schools and other government institutions would not be allowed. The bill also sets low caps for the damages that could be awarded to victims who bring suit against public institutions, while allowing higher damages to be assessed against the Church.
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