September 24, 2018
By Ivey DeJesus
When members of the state House of Representatives reconvene on Monday after a summer hiatus, they will take up for debate an issue that strikes at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church.
For more than seven decades, church officials across the state’s eight dioceses have concealed from parishioners, the public and law enforcement the sexual abuse of thousands of children at the hands of priests.
That systemic concealment of crimes has permitted the passage of time, and with it, the expiration of the time extended to victims by law to prosecute predators.
In the wake of yet another blistering grand jury report detailing horrific and gut-wrenching crimes against children – sometimes committed on some as young as 18 months – lawmakers will take up one of the most contested issues in recent times: the reform of the statute of limitations.
None of the 1,000 cases of child sexual abuse uncovered by the recent grand jury investigation can be prosecuted.
For all, the statute of limitations has expired. Attorney General Josh Shapiro has bemoaned the fact that he can’t prosecute every single living priest or bishop implicated in crimes. Shapiro, to date, has indicted only two priests, convicting one of them. To date, no bishop has been indicted.
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