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Catholic Church Continues Battle Against Changes to Statute of Limitations

Jun 13, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

The Roman Catholic Church has been fighting state legislation changes around the country, changes that would expand statutes of limitation by creating “windows” in which sexual abuse victims can press charges and bring civil lawsuits against their perpetrators, no matter how long ago the crime occurred or when the deadlines set by the state’s statute of limitation expires.

According to the Mercury News, the Catholic Church has worked hard to defeat measures across the county to open “windows” for victims of child abuse, including legislation in Ohio, Maryland, Colorado, Washington, D.C., New York and Illinois. To date, only Delaware, California, and Hawaii have passed “window” laws that provide victims a one year window in which they can bring civil lawsuits against their abusers, no matter how long ago the crime occurred. When California passed the “window” law 2003, over 550 lawsuits were filed.

Currently, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are working to lengthen their respective statute of limitation laws or removed them entirely.

Marci Hamilton, professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University is quoted as saying that changing the statute of limitations “has turned out to be the primary front for child sex abuse victims.”

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