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Markey Bill Would Open Pandora’s Box

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We do not doubt state Assemblywoman Marge Markey was motivated when she authored her bill that would suspend the statute of limitations on child molestation lawsuits for a year before extending the limit to 10 years after the victim turns 18. We do not understand why Markey and her supporters do not realize this bill could prove devastating to the Catholic Church and nonprofits.

If this bill passes, people 60 years and older could say when they were a child attending a parochial school, they were sexually molested by a priest or nun. In many cases, the person accused already will have died. Likely there will be no witnesses. Proving something happened will be as difficult as proving it did not.

Under criticism the bill would unfairly allow public schools to hide behind the statute of limitations, Markey amended it last week to include language that would override that protection. She is willing to bankrupt public education and the parochial system.

Brooklyn−Queens Diocese Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has become the leading opponent of Markey’s bill. He has warned the diocese might be forced to close parishes and schools. He threatened to close parishes in the districts of politicians who vote in favor of the bill.

Should her bill become law, it would accomplish little or nothing while doing enormous harm. Suspending the statute of limitations for a year and then extending it for 10 years would open up Pandora’s box. The only group that would benefit from this will be the lawyers who would make millions while churches and schools close.

While in the past the Catholic Church mishandled the problem of sexual abuse, in recent years it has been aggressive and open in dealing with it. There are those who would suggest the bishop and other priests are violating the constitutional separation and church and state by opposing Markey and her bill. That is nonsense. Churches have the right to stand on political issues.

This has put Markey’s Catholic constituents in an uncomfortable position. She should have seen the potential impact her legislation would have on any institutions and found a better way to help victims of sexual abuse.

Posted 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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