What Other Newspapers Say: Victims Waited Long Enough – Open State Courtroom Doors | News, Sports, Jobs
Successive grand jury investigations dating back to the early 2000s have revealed the extent of child sexual abuse and cover-up in the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania. The most recent panel of jurors looked at the evidence, then presented scorching conclusions in a 2018 report: Over 300 priests and had abused over 1,000 children over 70 years in six Roman Catholic dioceses .
Is that advice to correct these wrongs? Change laws to protect children and give victims long excluded from the justice system a temporary window to seek civil damages.
The grand jury, overseen by Attorney General Josh Shapiro, said victims who reported abuse were often blamed, intimidated and sometimes silenced by regulations that prohibited them from reporting abusers to law enforcement. And too often, church leaders have dealt with wrongdoing not by calling the police, but internally with ineffective treatment, then redeploying predators to offend again.
The victims, “Marked for life” a lot “Addicted, or weakened, or dead before their time … ran out of time to sue before they even had a case, the church always managed to hide its complicity”, the grand jury wrote.
The Pennsylvania legislature, to his credit, enacted all of the recommended forward-looking remedies in a bipartisan fashion. And the Catholic Church has instituted sweeping reforms for decades to guard against future abuse.
But on the most significant reform recommended by the grand jury – the temporary lifting of the statute of limitations to allow victims to seek justice in a courtroom, the independent forum where we Americans resolve our disputes under the law – the lawmakers, primarily Senate Republicans, have failed miserably. . Worse yet, their obstruction only served to reiterate the initial harm – the protection of the institution’s interests vis-à-vis vulnerable children.
Senators have the opportunity to correct this error. They have to grab it.
Dozens of states have enacted statute of limitations reform following abuse scandals. Opponents in Pennsylvania have long argued that this would violate the state constitution. But remember that even one of reform’s fiercest opponents, former Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Joseph Scarnati, agreed in 2018 to put constitutional concerns aside and lift the statute of limitations, but only to allow victims to sue perpetrators – not the deep-pocketed institutions that enabled them.
When the latest reform push collapsed in the face of this hollow compromise, advocates, including abuse survivors, Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, and Rep. Jim Gregory, R-Blair, pivoted to pursue an amendment. constitutional.
The victims, who had courageously shared their trauma and helped push reform forward, faced an overwhelming choice: to wait two years on the amendment or to turn to the opaque system of parallel justice erected by the church – committees independent contractors to examine claims and pay damages.
The affront to them was crowned by the inexplicable failure of Governor Tom Wolf’s administration earlier this year to announce the proposed amendment as required before the May 18 primaries. This forced the restart of the two-year amendment process, just as the long wait for victims was drawing to a close.
But now the reform efforts have come full circle again. Rozzi and Gregory are supporting both a constitutional amendment and a bill to temporarily lift the statute of limitations.
This time around, it looks like Republicans will join them in numbers needed to pass statutory reform. The bill was brought forward by the Senate Judiciary Committee via a convincing 11-3 vote on Wednesday.
The House has already adopted a similar measure. We urge Republicans who control the Senate to speed up his bill to the ground. Wolf stands ready to sign it.
Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Jake Corman is among the powerful Republicans who have expressed support for the measure. “Enough is enough,” he said, according to PennLive.
However, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward declined to comment since last week, according to SpotlightPA.
It is possible, as Corman pointed out, that the law will fail on appeal. But it is clearly an opportunity that many victims want to seize. They gathered again in Harrisburg on April 19. “Please listen to us” said Patty Fortney, one of the five sisters abused by a priest.
It is the children – raped and broken and now adults – on whom this debate must be riveted with urgency and good faith. The Catholic Church has never been the only institution to harbor predators. Similar abuses and cover-ups have been observed in schools and civic organizations. Many of these victims are also waiting for justice.
It should never have taken so long to get to this point. Some victims have died while waiting for lawmakers to clear the way for justice.
Don’t let this apparent wave of support for change be just another moment of political theater destined to end in obstruction and delay for the wounded Pennsylvanians who have suffered long enough.
Rozzi in an op-ed published on the USA Today Network Pennsylvania wrote that “Victims can travel to dark and deep places in the wake of another General Assembly failure to help right the wrongs of the past.”
Stick with them.
– York Daily Record