A bill before the Georgia legislature that would grant victims of child sex abuse more time to sue their abusers met with strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church Friday.
Rep. Jason Spencer, R- Woodbine, introduced House Bill 605 and pushed it through his chamber, saying many victims don’t find the courage to acknowledge abuse until older than 40. His bill would extend the statute of limitations from age 23 to 38 and possibly longer.
After lobbying behind the scenes to gut the bill, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta issued a statement calling the measure "extraordinarily unfair", punishing the church for actions perpetrated decades ago and by persons who might not be living anymore.
"We have always fully supported criminal prosecution of and lawsuits against any individual abuser of children, no matter how long ago the abuse is alleged to have occurred. Additionally, for the past two decades the Catholic Church in Georgia has had what may be the strongest safe environment program, non-profit or otherwise, in the state. Our Church and our schools have strict zero tolerance policies regarding sexual abuse of any vulnerable person. HB 605 does not protect anyone. Rather, innocent people and the organizations to which they belong will be radically impacted based on allegations against individuals who may no longer even be alive and cannot speak for themselves."