PA—SNAP wants legislators to abolish the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse
For immediate release: Thursday, March 2, 2017
Once again the Pennsylvania state legislature is considering lifting the civil statute of limitations (SOL) for child sexual abuse. Once again the debate is whether or not the SOL should be removed retroactively.
Yesterday about 10 members of our group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), stood in front of the headquarters of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. Among the issues that were addressed was the reform of the civil SOL.
Shaun Dougherty of Johnstown, who has said publicly that he was sexually molested as a minor by a priest from the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, told the gathered media that local legislators, as well as church leadership, are failing survivors.
“Actions of the Republican state Senate are suffocating yesterday’s victims and jeopardizing today’s children.”
We share Shaun’s justifiable frustration with the lack of legislative progress on this important and vital reform.
The Catholic Church continues to be one of the main opponents of civil SOL reform. The group has spent millions to protect its assets, trying to avoid paying restitution to those who were hurt because the Church recycled predatory clergy.
We strongly urge the Pennsylvania state legislature to resist the urge to allow the Church to avoid paying restitution to those who were hurt by its inexcusable policies.
Moreover, the United States Supreme Court in the Stogner case ruled that the criminal SOL for child sexual abuse cannot be lifted retroactively. Tthe same is not true of the civil SOL. Without eliminating the civil SOL for older cases, many predators will remain hidden from the public eye, and continue to pose a risk to today's kids, as Shaun pointed out yesterday.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.