March 26, 2006

Clergy abuse victims deserve day in court

The Republican

Sunday, March 26, 2006
Hundreds of sexual predators live in Massachusetts, free from prosecution for their crimes because the law protects them.

Their names do not appear on a list of sexual offenders; they are not required to report to the local police department when they move from one community to another; they are not required to wear electronic devices so authorities can monitor their whereabouts.

Under Massachusetts law, the police can't touch them.

So change the law.

Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse urged state lawmakers at a hearing earlier this month to approve bills that would abolish the statute of limitations in criminal and civil cases involving sexual abuse of children. Under current law, sexual crimes against children that took place 15 or more years ago cannot be prosecuted.

Therapists, psychologists and victim advocates testified that it often can be decades before victims find the courage to report the abuse to authorities.

Former Springfield bishop Thomas L. Dupre is the highest Catholic prelate in the nation to be indicted on child rape assault charges, but Hampden County District Attorney William M. Bennett cannot prosecute him because the charges are too old.

Posted by kshaw at March 26, 2006 08:38 AM