Iowa Senate Minority Leader and Clergy Abuse Survivors Call for Reform

Iowa Senate Minority Leader and Clergy Abuse Survivors Call for Reform

Changes are needed because survivors of child sex abuse can take decades to come forward

“The time for SOL reform is now,” they say

Revealing these 'hidden predators' and their enablers helps to protect children today


The Iowa Senate Minority leader, leaders from the nation’s oldest and largest advocacy group for victims of clergy and institutional sex abuse, SNAP, and local survivors of sexual abuse will call for the reform of state laws limiting the ability of victims to have their day in court.


10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 22


Room 22 at the Iowa State Capitol, located at 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319


Senator Janet Petersen, Iowa Senate Majority Leader, alongside several survivors of child sexual abuse, including the President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.


The recent revelations of widespread sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church as reveled in investigations in Pennsylvania and Illinois has outraged communities across America. The sexual abuse of gymnasts and the exploitation of the vulnerable by Hollywood producers point to widespread abuse in society. Most never report their abuse while others take decades before they can report their sexual abuse.

According to, only 1/3 of victims of child sexual abuse (CSA) disclose in childhood, and 1/3 never disclose. The average age for a victim of CSA to come forward is 52. Most survivors are silenced by feelings of shame, as well as the fear that they will be disbelieved if they do speak up. Many do not even realize until years later that what happened to them was a crime.

Iowa State law presently gives sexual abuse victims a limited time to file a lawsuit. As a result, abusers and those who enable them can escape justice, and more children are endangered. Reforming Statute of Limitation (SOL) laws would give survivors more time after they realize they were assaulted to sue their perpetrators, as well as anyone who helped to hide the abuse. Allowing victims more time to come forward and seek justice will help to expose ‘hidden predators,' which will make Iowa communities safer.

Since 2002, when the Boston Globe SPOTLIGHT team revealed the recycling of known abusers and the cover up of child sex crimes by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, at least 38 states have amended their statutes of limitations. SOL reform was signed into law in New York in February, and in New Jersey just this week.

Victims need reform in Iowa. No boy or girl should be put at risk from known abusers. As victim stories are told and heard across the state, lawmakers should work to deliver justice to those who have been silenced for far too long. When SOL laws are amended, children and communities are safer, and institutions that have hidden or recycled known perpetrators have a strong incentive to change their behavior.  SOL reforms hold sexual predators accountable and will instill accountability and consequences for any institution or organization that harbors, conceals or protects sexual predators. Reform will help ensure others will not be the next victim.  Iowa will become a safer place.

The consideration – and passage – of SOL reform will encourage all victims of sexual violence, no matter their age or where their abuse occurred, to come forward, make a report to law enforcement, and investigate new legal options.

CONTACT: Tim Lennon, SNAP President ([email protected], 415-312-5820), Paul A. Koeniguer, ([email protected],  515-865-9673);  John S. Chambers, [email protected] 515-277-8436);  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director, ([email protected]517-974-9009)

 (SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant