Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Church opposes extension of Statute of limitations

Catholic Church opposes statute change
Updated: Monday, 04 Apr 2011, 7:27 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 04 Apr 2011, 5:51 PM EDT

By: Mark Davis
Hartford, Conn (WTNH) - The Catholic Church in Connecticut has been given very high grades for its response to child abuse within its institutions, but some believe it is continuing its battle against adults who were abused long ago.

The trial for the first of some 90 plaintiffs in the lawsuits against Saint Francis Hospital begin this month. The plaintiffs are victims of the late Doctor George Reardon, who was abusing children for decades while he was working there.

"The goal of this bill is to recognize the heinous nature of crimes against children. Those are the crimes of child sexual abuse, by removing the statute of limitations going forward," said State Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford).

Last year the Catholic Church managed to kill a bill that would have removed the statute of limitations retroactively. The statute of limitations expires 30 years after you reach your 18th birthday, but the church is still fighting against the revised bill.

"We clearly had a problem with the retroactiveness of last year's bill. We appreciate the prospectiveness of this bill, but that still is one of a number of issues," Michael Culhane from the Connecticut Catholic Conference said.

Brian Hotchkiss of Branford, is not part of the Reardon case, but says being able to take his child abuser to court, years after the fact, helped him recover.

"My recovery moved forward. I was able to see that I do have more courage. I was able to leave behind the stigma of what had happened to me when I was a child," Hotchkiss said.

But the church has introduced its own bill, that would make public entities, like cities, towns, and the state, open to similar law suits, saying that would only be fair.

"As it relates to this particular heinous crime, we think that the protection of all children are just what the issue is all about," Culhane said.

The Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on both of these proposals sometime within the next two weeks.

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