NEWTON, Mass., Mar. 28, 2011 – An extension of Virginia’s sex abuse statute of limitations became law today with Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature. Voice of the Faithful, the 35,000-strong international organization formed in response to Roman Catholic Clergy child sexual abuse, provided input as lawmakers debated the bill.
VOTF board member William R. Casey of Alexandria, Va., wrote a statement presenting VOTF’s views on extending sex abuse statutes of limitations and delivered it to a Virginia Senate subcommittee and at a press conference before debate on the bill began. He joined forces with Virginia leaders of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and National Association to Protect Children.
The new SOL, which goes into effect July 1, allows child sex abuse victims up to 20 years after the incident, or 20 years after the victim turns 18, or 20 years after the abuse becomes known to sue their abusers.
The old SOL limited the filing of suits to two years from the date victims turned 18.
Many clergy sexual abuse survivors came forward during the debate on the new law to tell their stories to lawmakers, who admitted being swayed by personal testimony of survivors who recalled how decades had passed, with devastating effects on their lives, before they could face their abuse.
Casey said in his statement he has listened to countless stories of child sexual abuse, most committed by Catholic clergy.
“Survivors all share two common longings,” Casey said in his statement. “The first is their urgent need to protect other children from similar sexual abuse. The second is their need to obtain a direct acknowledgement of the abuse by their abusers and those responsible for their actions. Most survivors require years before they begin to connect the source of their suffering to the recollection of child abuse. Statutes of limitations are the single biggest impediment to the satisfaction of both these needs.”
The Virginia Catholic Conference opposed the SOL extension.
Voice of the Faithful
Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and shape structural change within the Church. More information is at http://www.votf.org.
Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360, 617-291-3495