November 17, 2005

Sex-abuse bill: first things first

The Plain Dealer

Thursday, November 17, 2005
Aheartfelt debate about one important detail threatens to thwart a good bill that would help protect youngsters from sexual abuse. That must not happen.

The core of Senate Bill 17 is an uncontroversial provision that requires clerics to report sexual abuse (unless the reporting violates a sacred trust) just as doctors, teachers and social workers must do. The Ohio Senate approved it and has sent it along to the House.

The controversy involves the inclusion in the bill of a temporary relaxation of the two-year statute of limitations for civil suits in abuse cases. The measure would extend the statute of limitations for suing in abuse cases to 20 years after a victim's 18th birthday, but it would do so only for a 12-month window. After that, the two-year statute of limitations would return.

Fearing multimillion-dollar suits, several Catholic bishops are chucking rocks at that window with the vigor of rowdy schoolkids.

Victims and supporters say the two-year statute of limitations handcuffs traumatized youngsters who may take years to find the courage to face an abuser.

Posted by kshaw at November 17, 2005 08:00 PM