April 01, 2005

Another hurdle for those seeking justice

Baltimore Sun

Dan Rodricks

JOSEPH F. Vallario Jr. did not return my phone calls, so the only explanation I have is the one that Annapolis lobbyist Mike Gisriel says Vallario gave him - he doesn't like people going after dead priests.

Even if the priests molested children, Vallario doesn't think their victims should have the right to sue the priests' dioceses for damages long after the crimes occurred. This, Gisriel says, is why the 68-year-old chairman of the House Judiciary Committee is deep-sixing a bill that would extend the time for victims to claim damages. Gisriel, hired to represent victims of childhood sexual abuse, doesn't think Vallario will let the committee vote on the matter.

A ridiculous amount of power for one old-school pol, but that's our system.

At present, Maryland law allows such civil suits only before victims reach their 25th birthday. Victims' advocates say that's not enough time; victims of such horrific crimes are too burdened with guilt, shame and fear to come forward until they are deep into adulthood, and many of the Catholic victims have waited until their parents died before going public.

Posted by kshaw at April 1, 2005 08:31 AM