MI--Abuse victims: Reform predator-friendly Michigan law

For immediate release: Monday, May 11

Statement by Bill McAlary, Grand Rapids  director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (616-514-0654bllmack1@gmail.com)
Michigan lawmakers are considering reforming the archaic criminal statute of limitations on child sex crimes. We hope they do. But even more, we hope they reform the archaic civil statute of limitations.

Civil statute of limitations reform enables victims to seek justice from both the predator and his/her employer. Criminal statute of limitations reform only deals with living predators. So it deters employers from acting callously, recklessly and secretively in child sex cases.

Civil statute of limitations reform enables the truth about corrupt institutions to be revealed.

Criminal child sex cases are tough to bring and win. Predators are smart, police are overworked, prosecutors are under-funded, predators are smart, evidence can be scarce and the burden of proof is very high.

Civil child sex cases are also tough to bring and win. But the burden of proof is lower. And victims can take action themselves, through civil suits, to expose those who commit and conceal child sex crimes.

So while we welcome efforts to reform Michigan’s predator-friendly criminal statute of limitations, we also urge lawmakers to reform Michigan’s predator-friendly civil statute of limitations too.

The best way to make that happen is to adopt a civil “window” that enables anyone who was molested by anyone at any time to bring civil cases for a fixed period (usually 1 to 3 years). Several states – Hawaii, Minnesota, California, Delaware – have done this. Michigan should too.

Victims are more likely to take action against predators, because victims have a direct self interest in exposing their predators and in healing. They should have the same rights as other crime victims – to have a reasonable length of time to expose wrongdoers and seek justice.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. 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)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747bblaine@snapnetwork.org)

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