Jun 19, 2014

State’s bishops support statute of limitations extension for child sexual abuse victims



Staff report

SPRINGFIELD – The four Roman Catholic bishops of Massachusetts today released a statement affirming their support for legislation that extends the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual assault.

The bill (H 4126) was passed yesterday by the state’s House of Representatives and would allow victims of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits up until the time they turn 53 years old, adding 35 years to the current reporting age limit of 18. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill today.

The new statute of limitations would apply retroactively to the alleged perpetrator of the abuse, but not to institutions that may have “negligently supervised” the abuser, according to a June 18 report form the State House News Service.

The following statement was released on June 19 by the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, on behalf of the Catholic bishops:

“We, the Bishops of the four Dioceses of Massachusetts recognize the suffering of survivors who have experienced sexual abuse and remain committed to assuring the safety of children entrusted to our care. For well over a decade, we have been utilizing comprehensive pastoral outreach programs for survivors and their families, have been vigilant in reporting claims, have worked closely with law enforcement and continue to be dedicated to resolving cases in a just and responsible manner.  

“Our efforts also include the implementation of extensive education and child safety programs involving hundreds of thousands of children and adults; background screening for tens of thousands of employees and volunteers; the immediate removal from ministry of any cleric, employee, or volunteer due to a credible allegation of abuse; annual independent audits to ensure compliance with national standards; and the sharing of data with research institutes. 

“Our support for this legislation is consistent with our continued and steadfast commitment to provide those services for as long as they are needed by the victims and their families.

“As a society, we must work together responsibly and collaboratively to root out child abuse from our communities, homes, schools, parishes and elsewhere.”