Thursday, April 05, 2007

CALL TO ACTION: This Effects Jewish Survivors Too - Church opposes more time for victims to sue image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
From The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter:
The Awareness Center is asking everyone to write letters to the senators in Illinois. Tell them to say NO to the Catholic Church and Yes to protecting the rights of survivors of sex crimes.

As we all know pedophilia has NO religion. The Catholic church is standing in the way of survivors of all faiths (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.). Please contact the senators in Illinois (and also the senators in your own state). Let them know you want your civil rights protected.
Church opposes more time for victims to sue
BY WHITNEY WOODWARD Sun-Times Springfield Bureau
Chicago Sun Times
April 2, 2007

SPRINGFIELD -- A bid to let all childhood sexual abuse victims sue those who harmed them -- even decades after the fact -- has prompted the Catholic Church to take on victim advocates in an effort to kill the measure.

Sen. Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) introduced a bill that would give victims of childhood sexual abuse a two-year period after the bill becomes law in which to sue those responsible, but gutted it after protests from church officials.

The bill would have opened a window for lawsuits even if the statute of limitations -- or time period in which legal action can be taken -- had expired.

Four years ago, lawmakers extended the window during which childhood sexual abuse victims can file a suit to five years after "discovering" or recognizing the abuse, or by the age of 28, whichever is later.

But because of their age at the time of the abuse, childhood victims may not report wrongdoing until it is too late to take legal measures, advocates said.

"This is an opportunity for victims to have their say in court -- to receive some compensation, along with justice," Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault executive director Polly Poskin said of Link's original proposal.

Over the last three decades, the church has been bombarded with lawsuits that have netted alleged abuse victims millions and prompted the church to revamp its policies.

But Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said measures already enacted by the church don't do enough to protect children.

"We feel that kids are still left at risk and that the climate that allowed this abuse to fester for decades still exists," Blaine said. "There are victims who still want their day in court."

If the original proposal becomes law, the measure would open the flood gates for lawsuits concerning abuse that happened years ago which the church had no knowledge of, said Bob Gilligan, a spokesman with the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

'Admission of wrongdoing'

"It becomes harder and harder to even begin to defend yourself against allegations," Gilligan said. "Parishes close, priests die, people move on."

Instead, the church would like to see a measure which does more to protect children and help victims heal, Gilligan said.

But according to Poskin, the church's opposition to the measure shows it has something to hide.
''The opposition is an indication of the admission of wrongdoing by the church,'' Poskin said.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago declined to comment on the bill.

Cardinal Francis George, in his April 1 column for the archdiocese newspaper Catholic New World, said the church has implemented a number of measures to respond to victim accusations. The column does not reference Link's proposal, although the senator said he has discussed the legislation with George.

Bill being revised

''The story reiterated in the national media is simply one of cover-up, but there is no cover-up here,'' George wrote.

In February, a committee of law enforcement officials, child welfare advocates and civic leaders assembled by George released a report saying the Chicago Archdiocese had done a good job taking steps to handle the abuse.

In response to the church's concerns, Link scrapped the original language of the bill -- which was first suggested by Blaine's group -- and is talking with church and victim groups to hammer out a compromise. Link said he's optimistic a bill can be passed this spring.

''There's a problem and a concern out there that we have to address,'' said Link, who calls himself a devout Catholic. ''Personally, it hurts me to even have to deal with this.''


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