Source: The Washington Post
THE ALL-BUT-IMPREGNABLE wall of power and influence that for decades blocked victims of child sex abuse from seeking justice and compensation from pedophiles and their enablers has started to crumble — not a moment too soon. Stunned by revelations in Pennsylvania and elsewhere documenting the scale of abuse by priests given cover by the Catholic Church, state lawmakers are starting to tear up laws that set strict limits on the number of years that victims are given to bring lawsuits.
Until now, the church, along with insurance companies and a few other private organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, has had the lobbying muscle to impede such measures, especially in states with sizable populations of practicing Catholics. In New York, for instance, people molested as children by pedophiles had until age 23 to press criminal charges or file civil lawsuits against their abusers. Repeated efforts to loosen that law were blocked by Republicans in the state Senate.
The dam of opposition to reform in Albany broke after Democrats took control of the upper house in last fall’s elections. In January, the church dropped its long-standing opposition to a more open system — allowing criminal charges until childhood victims turn 28 and civil suits until they turn 55 — when lawmakers agreed to apply the new law to public schools, as well as private entities such as the church. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) signed the legislation into law last month.