Church Battles State on Sex Abuse Claims Bill

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The leaders of the Catholic church in Connecticut want parishioners to speak out against a bill in the Legislature that would give child sex abuse victims more time to sue.

The bill would end the current 30-year statute of limitations for filing sex abuse claims.

Not surprisingly, churches want to see it stay. Church officials say it could have devastating financial effects and could result in claims that are more than 50-years old which would be impossible to defend in court.  Currently, victims have until their 48th birthday to file lawsuits.

"The bottom line is that this is terrible public policy, discriminatory by its nature, and a huge threat to us all," Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of the Hartford diocese, Bishop William E. Lori, of the Bridgeport diocese, and Bishop Michael R. Cote of the Norwich diocese wrote in a letter distributed at masses on Sunday. "This law could result in claims that are 50, 60 or 70 years old, which are impossible to adequately defend in court."

State Rep. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, is a sponsor of the bill and told the Hartford Courant that is letter is“inflammatory.” 

"It’s a bill designed to support victims of child sexual abuse.” she told the newspaper.

Talk of the House bill was brought up at services across the state over the weekend and priests are preaching for parishioners to take action against it.

Beth McCabe, a spokesperson for many who've allegedly been abused, said she's outraged the church wants to keep a cap on claims.

“Sometimes it's repressed so deeply that you don't remember it, as in my own case. My sister and I were both abused, she did remember it. I didn't remember it for 25 years, so it's so individual of how people deal with it,” McCabe, with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said.

While some were quick to speak out, many churchgoers at St. Thomas the Apostle in West Hartford told NBC Connecticut that Sunday is no day to discuss political pursuits.

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