Revelations in abuse case spark calls for reform

The Baltimore Sun

By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun

10:30 p.m. EST, November 26, 2012

State legislators and sexual-abuse victim advocates called Monday for reforms in the way such cases are handled in Maryland, including stricter reporting requirements when incidents are discovered.

State Sen. Delores G. Kelley, a Baltimore Democrat, said she would continue to push to strengthen Maryland’s reporting requirements. She also said victims of sexual abuse should have more time to file civil suits — “so people can get out of college, get their lives together, have some kind of economy and have the understanding of the crime.”

Anyone who doesn’t report a child-abuse allegation needs “to be held accountable because if child predators know they’re in a secret system and they are safe there, nothing changes,” said Judy Jones, an associate director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The proposed reforms come in wake of a Baltimore Sun investigation related to John Merzbacher, a one-time teacher at Catholic Community Middle School in Locust Point. Court documents analyzed in The Sun investigation indicate that the school’s principal and other Catholic officials were aware of the lay teacher’s sexual abuse of students in the 1970s but did not report it until Merzbacher was criminally investigated in the 1990s.

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