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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eliminate SOL on All Sex Crimes, CORSAL Committee, Massachusetts

"We must relentlessly prosecute the perpetrators, so they will be entered into the criminal justice system."

The following was received from Carmen Durso, Esq. Chairman of CORSAL, a committee in Massachusetts formed to advocate for reform of sex abuse laws in the Commonwealth.

Change or repeal the Statutes of Limitations for sex crimes.


We who advocate for clergy sexual abuse survivors are angry.

We want Bishops to resign, the Pope to be fired, and the Vatican to be held accountable. But we know these
things are unlikely to happen. So what can we do? Go to the State House on May 26th, and you may accomplish something more important.

Changes, in a two thousand year old organization, often seem to be glacial, that is to say, not noticeable during our lifetime. And then, the Catholic Church is different from every other religion in one very important respect.

In 2005, Texas attorney Dan Shea sued a local Diocese, on behalf of three abuse victims. A Federal judge gave him permission to depose Cardinal Law, who had fled to
Rome. Next, he sought to examine Joseph Ratzinger under oath about Crimen Sollicitationis, a Vatican document imposing secrecy on reports of sexual misconduct. But he hit a brick wall when Ratzinger was named Pope, and the U.S. State Department intervened, persuading the judge to dismiss the claim because, as head of a foreign
national state, the Pope is immune from suit.

After spending much of my professional life dealing with child sex abuse issues, I am convinced there are some things we can do to stop this problem, not only in our churches, but in all of our youth-serving organizations.

First, we must relentlessly prosecute the perpetrators, so they will be entered into the criminal justice system, punished appropriately, and branded, for life, as dangerous people. To accomplish this, we must eliminate all criminal statutes of limitation, for all sex crimes, so that the child, who cannot speak of this until he is a man, will obtain justice, no matter how long it takes.

Because we cannot make criminal SOL reform retroactive, we must also remove all legal barriers to civil suits against the organizations within which perpetrators operate. No statutes of limitations and no charitable immunity defense should ever stand in the way of obtaining the truth.

If it were not for the pioneering work of Attorneys Eric MacLeish, Mitch Garabedian, and others, you would not know today about this issue. You would not be reading about the Pope, or hearing that there are clergy abuse problems in Ireland, Germany, Australia, Italy, etc. The law suits filed in Boston have, once again, fired a shot heard round the world.

The threat of financial sanctions is one of the few external pressures to which institutions will respond. If I were Pope, and knew that every time a sexual abuse victim came forward, the church was going to face another million dollar law suit, eventually it would occur to me that making my organization a model for sexual abuse prevention is more cost effective than stone-walling victims, as well as the morally correct thing to do.

These steps are a state-by-state effort, and other states are way ahead of us. If you agree that advocating for these changes makes more sense than waiting for the Vatican to implode, come to the State House on Wednesday, May 26th, and speak to your Representative and Senator.

Call or write, if you can't come ( ). Tell them you want favorable action on House Bill No. 1523, sponsored by the Coalition to Reform Sex Abuse Laws ( ).

Don't call the Vatican. Their lines are busy
right now.

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