A Worthy Compromise

Boston Herald [Massachusetts]
July 2, 2006

The Legislature's Joint Committee on Judiciary has at last reached a reasonable compromise on the issue of extending the statute of limitations on crimes involving the sexual abuse of children - one that should be passed before lawmakers adjourn later this month.

Victims of abuse and their advocates have lobbied hard to lift the statute of limitations entirely in the wake of their own frustrations in pursuing cases, particularly against priests whose crimes were long covered up by officials of the Roman Catholic Church. Currently those abused as children have until 15 years after their 16th birthday to report such crimes to have them prosecuted. Only if the abuser leaves the state - as some had done - does the clock stop ticking.

The bill reported out Friday extends that deadline another 10 years, allowing for a total of 25 years after the victim reaches age 16. It is a difficult balance to achieve, but the current proposal is far better than the five-year extention favored earlier by Rep. Eugene O'Flaherty (D-Chelsea). And before the ink was dry on the compromise, the state's bishops and Cardinal Sean O'Malley lent their support, while once again apologizing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

They added, "The commonwealth's law-enforcement officials should be given the tools they need to remove sexual predators from our communities."

This bill will help enormously in that effort.


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