For immediate release: Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014
Several child sexual and physical abuse lawsuits against Catholic institutions in South Dakota have been tossed out at the urging of local Catholic officials.
It is shameful that Catholic officials are exploiting a legal technicality to evade responsibility for heinous crimes against kids that they could and should have prevented. And it’s equally shameful that legislators are enabling complicit Catholic officials to get by with this.
Over the past decade, most states have reformed archaic, predator-friendly statutes of limitations, enabling more child sex abuse victims to use the time-tested U.S. courts to expose predators and protect kids. South Dakota is the only state that has moved backwards.
But just because misguided lawmakers create these loopholes doesn’t mean that purportedly religious figures must take advantage of them. Catholic officials should fight child sex abuse victims, if they must, on the merits, not on the technicalities. If Catholic officials handled these predatory priests properly, they have no reason to fear trials.
Our hearts ache for these brave, suffering victims who have been betrayed again and denied their day in court because of corrupt church officials and a terrible law.