Listecki Against Removing Abuse Statute of Limitations
MADISON - Lawmakers are considering a temporary elimination on time limits for child sex abuse victims to sue their perpetrators. However, the bill is controversial and Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki said the Catholic Church is being "targeted."
Numerous victims of child sexual assault packed a hearing room at the state capitol to tell their painful stories. Frank Fanara, who was abused as a child by Catholic priest Father Lawrence Murphy said, "I didn't really realize how it affected me and my suffering for over 47 years." He described the abuse saying, "when I was sleeping in the middle of the night - I was sleeping and he would come and abuse me."
Under current law, victims must file a lawsuit against their abuser before the victim turns 35 years old. The bill would eliminate that provision for a three year period and allow victims to file suits. When California passed a similar law, victims say about 300 lawsuits were filed.
• State Senator Grothman Calls Catholic Officials "Screwballs"
However, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and a group of protestant churches oppose the bill.
Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki said the bill unfairly targets churches. For example, the bill limits damages to $50,000 for victims who were sexually abused in public schools. For victims abused in churches or other private facilities, there is no limit. "Are those victims not entitled to the same justice? and should the Catholic Church again be targeted in effect, if not in intent?," Listecki questioned. "This crime goes against everything the priesthood and the church represents," Listecki said.
A similar bill has been introduced in the legislature twice before but never generated enough support to pass. A state Senate committee still has to approve the bill before it can be sent to the full Senate.