April 02, 2006

Closing a door to the past

Toledo Blade

There's plenty of shame to go around in the halls of state government after the watering down of legislation that would have given men and women sexually abused by predatory priests a last chance for justice.

First, shame on Ohio's Roman Catholic bishops, who won their fight to gut the bill. And shame on the dealmakers in the General Assembly, who helped the bishops prevail by meekly genuflecting before the altar of political expediency.

What's left is a significantly weakened measure creating a civil registry of alleged abusers that is of dubious constitutionality. How can people be blacklisted who've never been convicted of anything? It is a testament to the inability of weak-kneed lawmakers to stand up to the church and give victims of clergy abuse a meaningful legal opportunity to press their claims.

Particularly troublesome are the back-room deals that scuttled the bill's toughest provision, a year-long "look back" window allowing civil lawsuits alleging abuse up to 35 years ago. House Speaker Jon Husted reportedly vowed to kill the entire bill if the look-back provision were not removed. He denied it, but the allegation came from a fellow Republican, Sen. Jeff Jacobson.

Posted by kshaw at April 2, 2006 09:43 AM