Waiving limitations on civil abuse suits called ‘unfair, catastrophic’

Catholic News Service

March 22, 2018

By Nichole Golden

Georgia lawmakers are considering waiving the statutes of limitations on civil lawsuits claiming sexual abuse of young people against nonprofits and businesses, but not government agencies or public schools.

Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta said the bill called the Hidden Predator Act, or H.B. 605, is unfair to the Catholic Church and would be catastrophic to the church’s mission. Many of the cases of alleged abuse could go as far back as the 1940s.

“I write to inform you of an extraordinarily unfair bill currently pending in our state legislature,” he said in a March 9 statement. “If passed, H.B. 605 could drastically damage our ability to carry out the mission of our Catholic Church in the state of Georgia.”

Sponsored by Republican Rep. Jason Spencer, the legislation was approved Feb. 28 by the Georgia General Assembly’s House of Representatives and sent to the state Senate for consideration.

“We have always fully supported criminal prosecution of and lawsuits against any individual abuser of children, no matter how long ago the abuse is alleged to have occurred,” said Gregory. “Additionally, for the past two decades the Catholic Church in Georgia has had what may be the strongest safe environment program, nonprofit or otherwise, in the state.

“Our church and our schools have strict zero-tolerance policies regarding sexual abuse of any vulnerable person.”

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