By now, you’ve heard of the Larry Nassar scandal in which hundreds of athletes said the former physician for the USA Gymnastics team and Michigan State University sexually abused them when he was supposed to be providing medical treatment. Many were minors at the time. Their testimonies during his sentencing hearing were emotional and powerful.
One of the ways Michigan legislators have tried to respond to this outrageous scandal is to propose legislation (Senate Bill 872) that would extend the statute of limitations for victims of criminal sexual abuse.
Currently, people who are sexually abused as children in Michigan generally have until their 19th birthdays to sue. Under the legislation, child victims abused in 1993 or later could sue until their 48th birthdays while those assaulted in adulthood would have 30 years to file a claim from the time of the abuse.
Basically, the state would get rid of the expiration date that currently allows many abusers to get away with their crimes because victims are often reluctant, with good reason, to come forward about what happened to them.
Who could possibly have a problem with that?
The Catholic Church. That’s who.
Because of course they don’t like legislation that would allow sex abuse victims to go after their abusers long after the crimes have occurred.
David Eggert of the Associated Press explains:
Michigan Catholic Conference spokesman David Maluchnik confirmed Tuesday that extending the statute of limitations is “of concern” to the church’s lobbying arm, but he withheld further comment until the bill’s impact could be fully reviewed…
Republican Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said that the Catholic Church is concerned that the statute of limitations bill could “open up other things that have been closed,” and “I think they have some valid concerns.” He declined to say if he wants to amend the legislation, though.
It is unknown how many victims of sexual abuse would benefit from the measure, or the potential financial implications for the Catholic Church.
I don’t see the problem.
If victims of sex abuse want to sue the priests who molested them, but are currently prevented by law from doing so because it happened decades ago, then pass the bill and let them sue the Church. The Church wouldn’t have to pay anything unless there’s guilt, and if there’s guilt, don’t Church leaders want to make things right?
We shouldn’t be surprised by the opposition, though. The Catholic Church is known for siding with abusers over the abused and oppressors over the oppressed. This is an organization that punishes teachers for getting married to the person they love, says “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” and fights legislation that provides comprehensive health care to women.
Protecting priests who molest children? That’s right up their alley, even when the law would give more power to victims who suffered at the hands of priests.
(Image via Shutterstock)