Monday, November 15, 2010

Michigan victims

Victims of childhood sex abuse by priests face tough legal battles in Michigan

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Victims of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests have a harder time getting justice or compensation in Michigan courts than in other states.
Although several states have relaxed their statutes of limitations, Michigan's remains one of the most restrictive.
Sexual abuse victims have until their 19th birthday to file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages in Michigan for past abuse. Catholic leaders in the state have continuously opposed legislation that would relax the statute.
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"It's a difficult state for the victim. It's a great state for the perpetrator," said Marci Hamilton, a professor at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law at New York's Yeshiva University.
The cost of compensating victims could devastate local dioceses if victims have more time to sue. Seven dioceses across the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy because of sexual abuse lawsuits. California dioceses paid nearly $1.3billion in damages after the statute of limitations was suspended for a one-year window in 2003.
"There's no doubt that extending the statute of limitations could be very costly for the church," said Charles Zech, who heads the Center for the Study of Church Management at Villanova University. "That has to be balanced against considerations of what is the right thing to do.

Read more: Victims of childhood sex abuse by priests face tough legal battles in Michigan | | Detroit Free Press

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