Home » Local »  Mass. bishops back expanded time limits for abuse claims

Mass. bishops back expanded time limits for abuse claims


Help us expand our reach! Please share this article

The four Massachusetts bishops have thrown their support behind a new bill that would lengthen the allotted time sex abuse victims have to bring a civil suit. The bishops see it as an "issue of justice," according to Peter McNulty, associate director for policy and research for the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC), the bishops' public policy arm.

"This is a fairness issue," he said.

The bill would extend the statute of limitations in civil child sex abuse cases from three to 35 years, which takes effect after the victim turns 18.

In addition, the law would broaden the "discovery rule." Currently, the law allows individuals three years to bring a suit after they discover the harm caused by sexual abuse; the new law would extend the timeframe to seven years. The bishops also endorse this change, McNulty said.

"We support that being extended as well," he said. "Theoretically someone could be 90 and still bring a claim under the discovery rule."

The expanded statute of limitations would apply retroactively only to abuse perpetrators but would apply going forward not only to individual abusers but also to the institutions they worked or volunteered for.

The Massachusetts House and Senate both approved the bill, which was sent to Gov. Deval Patrick's desk on June 23. Patrick has 10 days to sign or veto the bill before it would automatically become the law.

Help us expand our reach! Please share this article

Submit a Letter to the Editor