SNAP Responds to Maryland Catholic Conference Statement
(For Immediate Release December 20, 2022)
The Catholic Church in Maryland claims they will support proposed legislation that will prospectively eliminate the statute of limitation in civil lawsuits involving cases of child sexual abuse. Similar legislation was recently signed into law at the federal level. That bipartisan federal legislation also allows individuals an unlimited amount of time to file civil litigation in future cases of child sexual abuse.
In reality, the real headline here is much different. The Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC), the public affairs arm of bishops and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is opposing any language in a bill that would allow victims of childhood sexual abuse, who have been arbitrarily time-barred from justice, their day in court.
In our view, the statement by the MCC which points out a recently enacted federal law, Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2022, aims to convince the public that victims who suffered horrific sexual abuse in the past can seek redress under this law. This statement is false. While the federal law removes the statute of limitations for a minor victim of human trafficking or federal sex offense, it does nothing for the hundreds of brave victims who have come forward during the Maryland Attorney General's investigation into historical clergy abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Furthermore, it does nothing for hundreds, if not thousands, of other victims who still sit in silence.
Victims in Maryland deserve justice, and in order to get it, there must be state-level reform. As victim stories are told and heard throughout the state, lawmakers must work tirelessly to bring justice to those who have been silenced for far too long. No boy or girl should be exposed to known abusers and we know that children and communities are safer when SOL laws are amended or abolished, and institutions that have hidden or recycled known perpetrators have a strong incentive to change their behavior. Sexual predators should be held to account, as well as any institution or organization that harbors, obscures, or provides protection to them. Legislative change in Maryland will help to ensure children in Maryland will be more protected than they are today.
States like New York, New Jersey, and California have uncovered hundreds of catholic clergy members accused of sexual offenses by opening window legislation to victims of past abuse. This legislation has helped our organization expose names that dioceses have not placed on their credibly accused clergy list as required. Parents, parishioners, and communities in Maryland deserve this same level of truth and transparency.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications ([email protected], 267-261-0578) David Lorenz, SNAP Maryland leader ([email protected], 301-906-9161), Becky Ianni, Virginia and DC SNAP leader ([email protected], (703) 801-6044) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)