Pa. Clergy Abuse Case Underscores Need for Change in Statutes of Limitations
By Abbey Doyle
Courier & Press
September 21, 2018
In the wake of the tsunami from the Pennsylvania grand jury report, there have been numerous suggestions on proper remedies and responses, including allowing priests to marry and women to be ordained, help from the laity (a request made by Cardinal Sean O’Malley), and more statewide grand jury investigations.
Change must come from the state. The single most effective method of addressing sexual abuse of children is statutes of limitations reform and so-called window legislation. Almost all of the victims identified in the Pennsylvania grand jury report are barred from suing their abusers and the institutions that knowingly covered up the abuse. Arbitrary time limits lock the doors of the courthouse, denying victims justice and, therefore, healing.
It’s true that notions of due process support the necessity of most statutes of limitations; however, there are reasonable exceptions adopted by legislators that promote justice and fairness. It takes victims well into their adulthood to speak of their trauma; justice demands that victims are given more time, or a window, to revive barred claims.