May 23, 2005

Good intentions may be unconstitutional

Canton Repository

Monday, May 23, 2005

Ohio Senate Bill 17 took a bizarre, and arguably unconstitutional, turn before the Senate completed work on it earlier this spring. The bill, having to do with abuse of children, is now in the hands of the Ohio House. Lawmakers there should try to save it. We ask state Reps. Scott Oelslager, William J. Healy II and John Hagan to have a look.

Drafted with the cooperation of the Catholic Church, the bill would require all clergy to report any known or suspected abuse of a child. Nearly everyone knows the unfortunate recent history of the church. In certain parts of the country, church leaders concealed problems of abuse of children by priests. The bill would prohibit such concealment. It also would extend to 20 years the time period for filing a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of a minor. Twenty years would give people up to age 38 the oppportunity to bring suit.

After the Catholics endorsed the legislation, the Ohio Seante amended it with a special twist. It added a provision by which, for a year or two, people would have the chance to file suit for incidents as old as 35 years ago.

This decision to temporarily permit more lawsuits is a particularly odd decision for the Ohio Senate to make. It was, after all, the body that rushed last year to severely limit citizensí ability to file lawsuits against businesses, only to have its work frustrated by a more thoughtful Ohio House of Representatives.

Posted by kshaw at May 23, 2005 07:10 AM