February 10, 2006

Standard for sex-abuse suits under fire

Denver Post

By Eric Gorski
Denver Post Staff Writer

Democratic lawmakers, victims' advocate groups, lawyers and the Roman Catholic Church are squaring off in a high-stakes battle over whether it should be easier for victims of child sexual abuse to sue churches and private institutions in Colorado.

The push to loosen or drop statutes of limitations for victims seeking justice decades later is a new front in the national Catholic clergy sexual-abuse crisis.

Four years after the scandal erupted, legislators in a handful of states are considering such reforms - and meeting resistance from the church.

But the church's argument in Colorado appears to be a novel one: that it's unfair to hold churches and private nonprofits to a different standard than public schools, which under governmental immunity are difficult to sue under state law.

"We are arguing that everyone should be held to a higher standard," said Tim Dore, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm for the state's three dioceses. "Child abuse is child abuse. It should be treated the same, be it in a private or public institution. This is a societal issue."

Posted by kshaw at February 10, 2006 08:34 AM