Monthly Archives: January 2013

Father Santiago Tamayo one of a group of priests that assaulted teen girl


Father Santiago Tamayo one of a group of priests that assaulted teen girl

By Tracy Manzer and Dana Bartholomew, Staff Writers
Posted:   01/26/2013 02:46:40 PM PST
Updated:   01/26/2013 08:37:24 PM PST

The case files of Father Santiago Tamayo and Father Angel Cruces read like lurid dime-store novels.

Appropriately enough, the tales of how Tamayo, Cruces and five other priests sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl were fodder for the tabloids in the 1980s, which dubbed it “Snow White and the Seven Priests.”

The tale went public when victim Rita Milla came forward after becoming pregnant at age 19. Milla, a parishioner at St. Philomena church in Carson, told church officials in 1983 she was pressured by Tamayo to have an abortion, and she eventually went to the Philippines to have her daughter.

One of the documents in the newly released files includes a denial by Tamayo that he encouraged an abortion.

Also included is a letter the teen gave to church officials in 1983 but never sent to the priest who she believed fathered the child, Father Valentine Tugade. Tugade’s paternity was finally proven by a DNA test in 2003, but in 2007 Milla’s attorney, Gloria Allred, told reporters they did not know if he was still alive.

“Val, Why the hell haven’t you written me or called me,” Milla wrote. “Aren’t you interested to know how I am or how your baby is? You make me extremely angry. I’ve cried so many times because of your lack of concern.”

She also asks him for his blood type and for money to help with her hospital and delivery costs.

That was around the same time that Tamayo and the other priests fled to the Philippines to escape criminal investigation and civil litigation.

Tamayo’s file is dominated by memos and correspondence between Cardinal Roger Mahony and Monsignor Thomas Curry, the vicar of clergy, on how to keep Tamayo out of the country. There is also a letter in the file written to the cardinal in 2002 from a man alleging he was also abused by Tamayo.

Tamayo resigned as a pastor in 1984 and was placed on active leave by the archdiocese, though he continued to work as a priest in the Philippines. Tamayo died in 1996. Cruces died that same year.

Milla eventually received $500,000 as part of the record $660 million sex abuse settlement in 2007 from the L.A. Archdiocese following a decades-long legal battle. More importantly, she says is the vindication she received with the public admission of guilt and apology issued by an ailing Tamayo in 1991.

Today, Milla is an activist with the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

She said in an interview Friday she tried to steel herself for the release of the new documents but she still was unprepared for the fresh wave of hurt and crushing depression that it triggered.

“I saw the letter, and I must have written it, but I don’t remember it,” she said. “It was a shock. I guess I just totally repressed it. I blocked so much out.”

Now 50, she works as a medical assistant. Her daughter, now 30, is getting married soon, and Milla also has a son, now 23, with her husband Scott Lewis.

“My kids were raised without religion, so they are happy,” Milla said.

 

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More alleged victims delay report on sex abuse by priests in New Brunswick


More alleged victims delay report on sex abuse by priests in New Brunswick

By: The Canadian Press

From the link: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/faith/more-alleged-victims-delay-report-on-sex-abuse-by-priests-in-new-brunswick-188679651.html

MONCTON, N.B. – A former judge says his final report on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Moncton, N.B., area will be delayed until at least March because more alleged victims have come forward.

Michel Bastarache was hired last year by the archdiocese of Moncton to conduct a reconciliation and compensation process for alleged victims of sexual abuse involving a former priest from Cap-Pele.

The confidential process has since been expanded to hear complaints about any priests from the diocese.

Bastarache said he has already approved payments to about 50 people, ranging from $15,000 to $300,000 each.

“All of those that I interviewed have accepted my offer and I’m continuing to make the payments to those people,” Bastarache said Monday in an interview from his office in Ottawa.

The allegations that have been made have not been proven in a court.

The former Supreme Court of Canada justice says about 10 more people have decided to participate in the process including some people who had previously opted to take legal action.

“The archbishop is very much in favour of that,” Bastarache said. “He doesn’t want to close the door to anyone because they are late in the process.”

He said the process to determine compensation looks at many factors to determine the impact on the lives of the alleged victims.

“How old the victim was, how many times it happened, what were the acts of aggression, and then during the interviews I have access to medical files, psychological files, things like that,” he said.

In December, the Moncton diocese announced it had removed two priests from any ministry work following allegations of sexual abuse of children.

Bastarache informed the archdiocese of the accusations after hearing them during his reconciliation and compensation process.

Ex-priest sentenced to 15 years in prison in child sex abuse case


Ex-priest sentenced to 15 years in prison in child sex abuse case

By Rafael Olmeda and Tonya Alanez, Sun Sentinel1:06 p.m. EST, January 28, 2013

From the link: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/fl-former-priest-doherty-sentencing-20130128,0,210420.story

A retired priest convicted of molesting a young boy and accused of preying on dozens of others was sentenced Monday to 15 years in state prison.

Neil Doherty, 69, pleaded no contest earlier this month to criminal charges brought against him on behalf of one victim, a man who grew up across the street from St. Vincent’s Roman Catholic Church in Margate, where Doherty was the pastor. The man accused Doherty of drugging him and having sex with him.

As part of a plea negotiation, Doherty faced a maximum 15-year prison sentence, though he pleaded for leniency through his lawyer, David Bogenschutz, who argued that Doherty’s age and frail condition made him unlikely to offend again.

Broward Circuit Judge Kenneth Gillespie was unmoved, sentencing Doherty to the maximum allowable term.

Before handing down his sentence, Gillespie heard from the victim’s lawyer, Jeff Herman, as well as two other men who said they were abused by the defendant while he was serving as a priest.

“Father Neil, as I knew him, told me he was going to help me, that his job was to show God’s love,” said one, a man now in his 40s who said Doherty abused him in 1984 and 1985. “What happened was he laced wine he gave me with drugs and when I awoke I was naked and had been sexually abused.”

The Sun Sentinel does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

The Rev. Chanel Jeanty, chancellor for canonical affairs for the Archdiocese of Miami, told Gillespie that the church was aware of 34 complaints of sexual abuse at Doherty’s hands.

Archdiocese of Miami spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta issued a written statement Monday noting that Doherty was removed from active ministry in 2002.

“We continue to pray for the healing of those whom he victimized as well as for all young people who have been abused by an adult in a position of trust,” Ross Agosta wrote. “That a priest would give scandal in this way both angers and shames us.”

Doherty will get credit for 842 days he has already served in the Broward Main Jail awaiting trial.

50 ‘old boys’ speak out in school abuse probe


50 ‘old boys’ speak out in school abuse probe

Police have received a steady stream of former pupils alleging they were sexually abused by teachers from St Ambrose College in Hale Barns between 1962 and the 1990s

From the link: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/50-old-boys-speak-out-1249474

A police sex abuse probe at a top Catholic school has now uncovered more than 50 possible victims and witnesses.

As the sheer scale of the investigation became apparent, the detective leading the enquiry into St Ambrose College in Hale Barns said he was determined to ensure ‘justice is done’.

Police have received a steady stream of former pupils alleging they were sexually abused by teachers from the school since the M.E.N. exclusively revealed the probe last year.

Some ‘old boys’ who have been in touch with officers have alleged they were molested both in the school and at the homes of teachers.

Others have come forward as witnesses to alleged abuse.

The police investigation has uncovered at least five former teachers against whom allegations have been made.

One former teacher has already been arrested and released on bail pending further enquiries.

The police investigation is concentrating on a period between 1962 and to the 1990s.

It is understood some allegations were made by pupils at the time but they had second thoughts about pursuing their grievances.

Former pupils who have now come forward say they were sexually abused while they were being given corporal punishment.

No current teachers have been implicated in any of the allegations being investigated.

One ‘old boy’ told the M.E.N: “All the school friends I have spoken to are expressing a degree of surprise it has taken so long for this to come out.

“There was questionable behaviour going on from members of staff. Most people were aware of it. But, obviously, times have changed since the Jimmy Savile scandal.

“The size of the police investigation just shows how this spans generations. These are not just one-off incidents. There was a culture of violence over several years.”

Det Insp Jed Pidd said: “We have received dozens of calls from former pupils reporting historic sexual abuse. Reporting such matters is clearly a very difficult and distressing thing to do and we are working hard to support them.

“We are determined to identify any offenders and have a dedicated team of officers working towards one primary objective: to ensure justice is done.

“It would not be appropriate to divulge the number of potential victims at this time, but they and the wider public can be reassured that we are working closely with the CPS to ensure this  wide-reaching investigation is dealt with thoroughly and as quickly as possible.

“These are historic allegations with the date of the last alleged incident being in the 1990s, and the school has and continues to provide every support and cooperation with this investigation that it can.”

Second Australian Catholic priest charged


Second Australian Catholic priest charged

By JOANNE MCCARTHY

Jan. 29, 2013, 10:14 a.m.

RETIRED Maitland-Newcastle catholic priest Lew Fenton has appeared in Newcastle local court as the second Australian Catholic priest charged with concealing the child sex crimes of another person.

Mr Fenton, 81, did not enter a plea to a charge of misprision of a felony – concealing a serious crime -related to events in the mid-1980s.

He was supported in court by a small group of people and did not make a statement outside the court.

The matter was adjourned until March.

A special message to the Bill Kells of the Roman Catholic Church


In my blog posting about the Bishop Confirms National Catholic Reporter is not a Catholic publication,

https://rapevictimsofthecatholicchurch.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/bishop-confirms-national-catholic-reporter-is-not-a-catholic-publication/

One person, named Bill Kells commented: Bill Kells: The “National CATHOLIC Reporter” is fraudulently using the name “Catholic”.
To use the name ‘Catholic’ they must adhere to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition’ in entirety.
Purposely deceiving people is fraud, not freedom of the press.
They should accurately change their name – perhaps to the “National NON-Catholic Reporter”.

So let us look at Bills comment and see if the Roman Catholic Church should be called Catholic for adhering to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition in it’s entirety shall we?

2356 Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.

Well Bill I would guess that not even the pedophile priests and those who cover up the systematic rape of children is in keeping with the Catechism of the RCC is it? So this is my first strike for the Roman Catholic Church being called Catholic.

2297 reads in part: Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law

First Bill, remember your history? The Roman Catholic Church has used torture in many ways, to punish the “guilty” (those who were Pagan, Native American or African sure know about this do they not?) Remember the Inquisitions done by the Roman Catholic Church? Let’s learn some history shall we Bill?

The First Crusade was launched in 1095 with the battle cry “Deus Vult” (God wills it), a mandate to destroy infidels in the Holy Land. Gathering crusaders in Germany first fell upon “the infidel among us,” Jews in the Rhine valley, thousands of whom were dragged from their homes or hiding places and hacked to death or burned alive. Then the religious legions plundered their way 2,000 miles to Jerusalem, where they killed virtually every inhabitant, “purifying” the symbolic city. Cleric Raymond of Aguilers wrote: “In the temple of Solomon, one rode in blood up to the knees and even to the horses’ bridles, by the just and marvelous judgment of God.”

In the Third Crusade, after Richard the Lion-Hearted captured Acre in 1191, he ordered 3,000 captives — many of them women and children — taken outside the city and slaughtered. Some were disemboweled in a search for swallowed gems. Bishops intoned blessings. Infidel lives were of no consequence. As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux declared in launching the Second Crusade: “The Christian glories in the death of a pagan, because thereby Christ himself is glorified.”

Throughout Europe, beginning in the 1100s, tales spread that Jews were abducting Christian children, sacrificing them, and using their blood in rituals. Hundreds of massacres stemmed from this “blood libel.” Some of the supposed sacrifice victims — Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, the holy child of LaGuardia, Simon of Trent — were beatified or commemorated with shrines that became sites of pilgrimages and miracles.

In 1209, Pope Innocent III launched an armed crusade against Albigenses Christians in southern France. When the besieged city of Beziers fell, soldiers reportedly asked their papal adviser how to distinguish the faithful from the infidel among the captives. He commanded: “Kill them all. God will know his own.” Nearly 20,000 were slaughtered — many first blinded, mutilated, dragged behind horses, or used for target practice.

In the 1400s, the Inquisition shifted its focus to witchcraft. Priests tortured untold thousands of women into confessing that they were witches who flew through the sky and engaged in sex with the devil — then they were burned or hanged for their confessions. Witch hysteria raged for three centuries in a dozen nations. Estimates of the number executed vary from 100,000 to 2 million. Whole villages were exterminated. In the first half of the 17th century, about 5,000 “witches” were put to death in the French province of Alsace, and 900 were burned in the Bavarian city of Bamberg. The witch craze was religious madness at its worst.

Protestant Huguenots grew into an aggressive minority in France in the 15OOs — until repeated Catholic reprisals smashed them. On Saint Bartholomew’s Day in 1572, Catherine de Medicis secretly authorized Catholic dukes to send their soldiers into Huguenot neighborhoods and slaughter families. This massacre touched off a six-week bloodbath in which Catholics murdered about 10,000 Huguenots.

In 1723 the bishop of Gdansk, Poland, demanded that all Jews be expelled from the city. The town council declined, but the bishop’s exhortations roused a mob that invaded the ghetto and beat the residents to death.

The Thirty Years’ War produced the largest religious death toll of all time. It began in 1618 when Protestant leaders threw two Catholic emissaries out of a Prague window into a dung heap. War flared between Catholic and Protestant princedoms, drawing in supportive religious armies from Germany, Spain, England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Italy. Sweden’s Protestant soldiers sang Martin Luther’s “Ein ‘Feste Burg” in battle. Three decades of combat turned central Europe into a wasteland of misery. One estimate states that Germany’s population dropped from 18 million to 4 million. In the end nothing was settled, and too few people remained to rebuild cities, plant fields, or conduct education.

Nope Bill the Catholics sure do love to use torture do they not? So I would state by your own words, this is strike two for the Roman Catholic Church following every bit of the Catechism isn’t it?

2354 Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.

Sure are a lot of priests who are found with pornography on their computers. So Bill are they Catholic?
2355 Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure. The one who pays sins gravely against himself: he violates the chastity to which his Baptism pledged him and defiles his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.140 Prostitution is a social scourge. It usually involves women, but also men, children, and adolescents (The latter two cases involve the added sin of scandal.). While it is always gravely sinful to engage in prostitution, the imputability of the offense can be attenuated by destitution, blackmail, or social pressure.

Let’s see, many of your own Popes from history played with both male and female prostitutes and priests have been busted using the services of both male and female prostitutes. So are they Catholic Bill?

So tell me Bill, why should the Roman Catholic Church call itself Catholic when as you have said: “To use the name ‘Catholic’ they must adhere to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition’ in entirety.”????????

Friar accused of abuse in two states kills himself, police say


Friar accused of abuse in two states kills himself, police say

By Ron Todt, The Associated Press

From the link: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/26/16715824-friar-accused-of-abuse-in-two-states-kills-himself-police-say?lite=

PHILADELPHIA — A Franciscan friar accused of sexually abusing students at Catholic high schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania killed himself at a western Pennsylvania monastery, police said Saturday.

Brother Stephen Baker, 62, was found dead of self-inflicted wounds at the St. Bernardine Monastery in Hollidaysburg on Saturday morning, Blair Township Police Chief Roger White told The Associated Press. He declined to specify the type of wounds or say whether a note was found.

Baker was named in legal settlements last week involving 11 men who alleged that he sexually abused them at a Catholic high school in northeast Ohio three decades ago. The undisclosed financial settlements announced Jan. 16 involved his contact with students at John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio from 1986 to 1990.

The Youngstown diocese previously said it was unaware of the allegations until nearly 20 years after the alleged abuse.

“Let us continue to pray for all victims of abuse, for Brother Baker’s family and the repose of his soul,” Youngstown Bishop George Murray said in a statement Saturday.

After the settlements were announced, the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese in central Pennsylvania said it received complaints in 2011 of possible abuse by Baker at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Bishop McCort High School hired an attorney to investigate after several former students alleged they were molested by Baker in the 1990s. Attorney Susan Williams said three former students had talked to her in detail about the alleged abuse.

Baker taught and coached at John F. Kennedy High School in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and was at Bishop McCort from 1992-2000.

Bishop Mark Bartchak of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese said in a statement that he was saddened by the news of Baker’s death, but declined further comment citing pending legal action involving the diocese.

A message left for Father Patrick Quinn, the head of Baker’s order, the Third Order Regular Franciscans, was not immediately returned.

Judy Jones, assistant Midwest director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the organization still hopes people who know about other abuse allegations against Baker will continue to come forward.

“We feel sad for Br. Baker’s family but even sadder for the dozens of boys who Baker assaulted,” she said in a statement.

Former Long Beach Priest Sentenced for Sex Crimes


Former Long Beach Priest Sentenced for Sex Crimes

Church members were in court Wednesday to support Luis Jose Cuevas, who served in North Long Beach for seven years before his July 2012 arrest

By Jonathan Lloyd and Toni Guinyard|  Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013  |  Updated 12:01 PM PST

From the link: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Long-Beach-Priest-Sex-Assault-Lewd-Acts-Sentence-188050761.html

A former Long Beach priest who entered a plea of no contest to sexual assault charges — including lewd acts involving a child — was sentenced Wednesday and ordered to register as a sex offender.

Luis Jose Cuevas, 68, who served the North Long Beach Catholic community for seven years, entered the no-contest plea in December. He was charged with eight misdemeanor counts of sex assault involving two women and one felony count of a lewd acts involving a child.

The girl, 17, accused the priest of repeatedly groping her at the church during a period of two years.

He was sentenced to five years felony probation, 40 hours of community service and one year of offender counseling. He also must register as a sex offender.

“This is a 68-year-old gentleman who is now facing the last third of his life,” said defense attorney George Bird Jr. “What is he going to now do?”

He was prohibited from being alone with anyone under 19 years of age, unless accompanied by the child’s biological or adoptive parent

He was prohibited from being alone with anyone under 19 years of age, unless accompanied by the child’s biological or adoptive parent.

Cuevas was a parish priest at Athanasious Catholic Church. He was arrested in July 2012.

“I know what he did with the community of the church,” said Martha Montes, a parishioner. “I believe in my heart that he’s innocent.”

Child sex abuse link to celibacy


Child sex abuse link to celibacy

By Barney Zwartz

Jan. 24, 2013, 3 a.m.

MANY Catholic priests take a flexible approach to celibacy, tolerated by church leaders, and some believe sex with children or men does not count, a former Melbourne priest said on Wednesday.

”An enormous number of priests struggle with celibacy,” Philip O’Donnell told the state inquiry into how the churches handle child sex abuse.

”There’s a tolerance for imperfection in celibacy, and that may have led to a lessening of outrage at sex with children.”

He said he had no training about celibacy in the seminary and that many priests were ill-equipped. ”Chosen celibacy is a gift, but mandatory celibacy is for many priests a millstone,” he said.

Mr O’Donnell declined to speculate on what percentage of Catholic priests, who must vow to be celibate, were sexually active, but another Melbourne priest has separately suggested it is about half.

Asked by committee member Andrea Coote whether priests believed only sex with women counted as real sex (breaking celibacy vows), and that homosexual and child sex did not, Mr O’Donnell said: ”Sometimes.”

He said another priest told him the celibacy requirement would never change because so many priests were gay and it was ”great cover. No one asks me why I am 50 and single – they assume I am celibate,” the priest told Mr O’Donnell.

Mr O’Donnell – a priest in Melbourne from 1975 to 1999 who resigned and later married – said sexually active priests coped with the internal contradiction by compartmentalising their professional and private lives.

In other evidence to the inquiry, Catholics for Renewal president Peter Johnstone said the church’s handling of sexual abuse was directly related to its dysfunctional government. Although Australian church leaders claimed that responding to abuse was a local matter, in fact the Vatican kept strict control.

The worldwide church was governed by a 17th-century system whereby ultimate power was vested in men who were celibate, often socially isolated, usually old, unable to communicate with the faithful, and under the supreme control of a papal monarch who demanded blind obedience.

Mr Johnstone said Catholics for Renewal was an organisation of committed, progressive Catholics who represented views shared by several Australian bishops and scores of priests who were bound by rigid vows of obedience not to publicly say so.

Asked by the committee to name these bishops, Mr Johnstone said it would be inappropriate. ”If you want to see what happens to bishops who disagree, just look at Bill Morris” (the bishop of Toowoomba sacked by the Pope last May after suggesting the church might consider revisiting the question of women priests).

However, retired bishops Pat Power of Canberra and Geoffrey Robinson of Sydney are two who have trenchantly criticised Vatican structures.

A former principal and a teacher at Holy Family School, Doveton, told the inquiry of how their careers and lives were ruined after they separately sought to protect children from the predatory parish priest, Peter Searson (now dead).

Both Graham Sleeman, a popular principal in the 1980s, and Carmel Rafferty, a senior teacher in the early 1990s, believe the Catholic Education Office and archdiocese betrayed them. Both found it impossible to get work in the Catholic education system after their whistleblowing, and both suffered years of trauma and stress.

The Doveton parish suffered six abusers in a row as parish priest or assistant priest.

Renewed push to update statute-of-limitations laws in child sex abuse cases


Renewed push to update statute-of-limitations laws in child sex abuse cases

Published: 1/23 12:05 pm

From the link: http://www.whptv.com/news/local/story/Renewed-push-to-update-statute-of-limitations/lunXGHHsiEGu7WcYmOEZ5Q.cspx

Saying the move is long overdue and flanked by high-profile reform advocates, state Reps. Louise Williams Bishop and Michael P. McGeehan, both D-Phila., today announced a renewed push to update archaic statute-of-limitations laws in child sexual abuse cases at a Capitol Rotunda news conference.

Bishop and McGeehan said their respective bills are patterned after ones they introduced in the last two-year legislative session but died after being inexplicably bottled up in the committee process.

Bishop has reintroduced her legislation, now known as H.B. 237, which would abolish the statute of limitations on criminal charges and civil lawsuits in cases of child sexual abuse.

“Child sexual abuse victims are slowly beginning to break the barriers of silence; however, they still face a daunting procedural obstacle — the statute of limitations,” said Bishop, who came out last year as a victim of child sexual abuse. “Instead of suppressing legislation that would lift the statute of limitations, we should be voting these game-changing bills out of committee and the House, so more victims can seek justice.”

McGeehan has introduced H.B. 238 that would suspend any expired statute of limitations for two years in child sex abuse cases, providing a window of opportunity for those victims to file a civil lawsuit. His bill also would seek to make child sexual abuse an exception to the sovereign immunity defense that shields public officials from being sued.

“The effects of child sex abuse are felt everywhere,” McGeehan said. “We are all victims. The scandals which have rocked school districts and dioceses across the country, Penn State, the Boy Scouts — the problem clearly is not going away. Opponents of our measures need to rethink their positions and become part of the solution. Let’s get this done.”

Freshman state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, a victim of child sexual abuse by a priest and prime co-sponsor of McGeehan’s legislation, said he is proud to stand as an ally of Bishop and McGeehan in this effort.

“Sexual abuse not only destroys the victim’s life, but its ripple effects can have a dramatic impact on family members and friends as well,” Rozzi said. “Often times the victims suffer in silence, and they see suicide as their only way out. It is now time to break the silence, let their voices be heard and end this vicious cycle of sexual abuse.”

A key supporter of the legislation, former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, said, “Recent revelations about decades of lies and cover-ups of child sexual abuse in the most respected organizations demonstrate the need for the progressive pieces of legislation offered by Representatives Bishop and McGeehan.”

McGeehan praised Abraham for her courageous efforts in convening the exhaustive investigation of the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 2002, which actually empaneled three grand juries.

“To quote former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, she is one tough cookie,” McGeehan said.

Professor Marci A. Hamilton of the Benjamin N. Cardoza School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York, the author of “Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect its Children” and a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, praised the Bishop-McGeehan-Rozzi effort.

“Statue-of-limitations reform is empowering to victims and their families, and terrifying to pedophiles and their supporting institutions,” said Hamilton, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania law school. “This legislation finally levels the playing field so that victims can come forward when they are ready — and those creating the conditions for abuse are put on notice that they do not have a safe haven in an arbitrary legal technicality.”

John Salveson, founder and president of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, said the reopening of a window to file civil suits – as called for by the McGeehan bill – can have a profound effect on public awareness.

“This week, the Los Angeles Times broke a story that Catholic Church officials concealed abuse involving 75 priests and 500 victims,” Salveson said. “Those files were released as part of a civil action by child sex abuse victims covered by a one-year window in California that suspended the statute of limitations for past victims. No window, no trial. No trial, no documents. No documents, no exposure of predators. It’s really that simple.”

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