Clergy abuse sheds light on statute of limitations debate


February 27, 2019

By Laura Terrell

The Senate minority leader has introduced new measures that would give child sex abuse survivors more time to come forward, saying Iowa should not be a “sanctuary state” for predators.

State Sen. Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, introduced two bills tackling the issue — one that would end the statute of limitations for filing criminal charges and another that would end it for trying to collect damages in a civil lawsuit.

“If you were abused as a child, you only have until your 19th birthday to go after the organization that covered the crime,” Petersen said. “Our laws are terrible. We should not be a sanctuary state for predators, and organizations cover up this crime.”

The Diocese of Sioux City on Monday identified 28 priests who were credibly accused of having sexually abused more than 100 boys and girls.

Only one former priest, John Patrick Perdue, is still alive and living in Iowa. The Iowa Court of Appeals in 2011 dismissed lawsuits filed against Perdue and another priest by two alleged victims, ruling that the statute of limitations had expired.

“There was a grooming process,” said West Des Moines attorney Patrick Hopkins, who represented a victim at the time.

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