Wisconsin Activists Ask Candidates to Commit to Child Sexual Abuse Laws Reform
Wisconsin Public Radio
May 22, 2018
A group of Wisconsin activists are asking political candidates to commit to reforming child sexual abuse laws this election season — and some candidates have already voiced their support for changes to the statute of limitations.
Peter Isely, founding member of the Midwest’s chapter of The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is one of the people leading the push with Women’s March Wisconsin.
Sarah Pearson is the state co-chair of Women’s March Wisconsin, which favors lifting time limits and creating a grace period through the Child Victims Act.
"What that would do is remove the Civil Statute of Limitations for victims of child sex abuse and open a three-year window in which victims of child sex abuse who were previously barred from filing civil claims could do that so they could finally receive justice in court," she said.
So far, Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls former state Rep. Kelda Roys, state Rep. Dana Wachs, D - Eau Claire, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers and former state Democratic Party director Matt Flynn have voiced their support for the changes.
Flynn, who represented the Milwaukee Archdiocese between 1989 and 2004, has drawn scrutiny from the same advocates calling for reforms. They want him to detail his work for the church but Flynn denies wrongdoing during his roughly 15 years representing the Archdiocese.
"What the archdiocese did in transferring priests that abused people was wrong," Flynn said Tuesday. "I defended the cases that were brought, I settled them and we put into place, it has not happened since I left the Archdiocese."
Flynn said he supports the Child Victims Act and wants to go beyond what it demands. Flynn released his own set of reforms, which include stiffer penalties for abusers of children with developmental delays or disabilities and resources to stop child trafficking.
Gov. Scott Walker also suggested that he's open to lifting the statute of limitations on civil child sex abuse lawsuits.
The governor told reporters during a question-and-answer period at the executive mansion Tuesday that he hadn't seen the specifics of the call. But he wants to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable "no matter how far back you go."
Democrats introduced a version of the Child Victims Act in 2015 but Republicans who control the Legislature didn't give it a hearing in either the Assembly or Senate.
Walker faces re-election in November.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 with original reporting by WPR staff.