Sponsors of sex-abuse legislation angry over change to R.I. Senate bill

Providence Journal

May 30, 2019

By Katherine Gregg

On the day the House overwhelmingly approved a bill to give victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue, Senate leaders served notice they will not support a key feature of the bill that leaves the door ajar for suits based on recovered memories against institutions — such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts — that failed to protect victims from their molesters.

“It looks like the church [has a seat] at the table over in the Senate,” fumed the lead House sponsor, Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, on Thursday morning, on the day after the Senate Judiciary Committee posted a reworked, and conflicting, version of the bill for a vote on Thursday night.

Several of the past victims of clergy sex abuse — including McEntee’s now-66-year-old sister, Ann Hagan Webb, and Dr. Herbert “Hub” Brennan — raced to the State House in hopes of dissuading the senators from approving what they viewed as a weaker version of the bill that in Brennan’s words “is really a shadow of what needs to be done.”

“It is sacrificing the welfare of children at the altar of the Catholic Church,” Webb told reporters.

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