Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5473

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING ACTIONS TO RECOVER DAMAGES FOR THE SEXUAL ABUSE, SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OR SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A MINOR.

Vote Date:

3/29/2010

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/17/2010

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

Senator Mary Ann Handley and Representative Beth Bye first brought the concept of this bill to the Judiciary Committee in 2009, but it did not make it out of committee.

Sen. Handley's interest in eliminating the statute of limitations was driven by the story of two of her constituents, sisters who as children were both abused by their father, but who never knew the other was abused until they each shared their secrets later in life.

Rep. Bye's involvement in the issue began when constituents from her district began contacting her after explicit photos of children were discovered in 2007 inside the former West Hartford home of Dr. George Reardon, a prominent doctor in the town.

Child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual assault victims may for many reasons be reluctant to come forward, or may not realize the harm and emotional damage they suffered until more than 30 years after they have reached their majority at age 18. This bill would allow victims to bring an action at any time after the date of the abuse.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

Proposed Substitute Language adds: An action to recover damages for personal injury caused by sexual abuse of a minor can be brought any time if 3 criteria are met.

(1) One or more actions are brought by another person within the limitation of time prescribed in subsection (a).

(2) The complaint alleges abuse that is (A) substantially similar (B) committed by the same person (C) names the defendant alleged to be liable and

(3) The attorney filing the action has made a reasonable inquiry to make a good faith belief that the person was abused as a minor.

AMENDMENT “A”

A claim can be brought to the Claims Commissioner notwithstanding the limitation of time on the presentation of a claim to the claims commissioner. This type of claim would be subject to the time limitation of the requirements of section 52-577d of the General Statutes as amended by this act.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Michelle Cruz, Office of Victim Advocate: Urges the committee to support this bill on behalf of child victims of sexual assault. Throughout the country, we are seeing severe cases of sexual assault and abuse of minors just now coming to light. In many cases, the perpetrators have died, and therefore, the victim will never have the ability to seek justice through the criminal process. Many victims suffer in silence for years and in some cases may either not realize they were assaulted until they reach maturity or suppress the memories of the assault which is common in cases of trauma. The process for a sexual assault victim to heal sufficiently in order to pursue a civil claim is long and filled with trauma and self doubt. This is not an easy step, nor is it an answer for all victims. But, those victims who choose to pursue civil action in sexual assault cases should have the ability to do so at a time that is not only safest for them, but also healthiest.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

State Representative Beth Bye (19th): A similar bill was raised in 2009, but did not make it out of the Judiciary Committee. “Like you, I was elected to serve the constituents who live in my district. Sadly I have many, many constituents who were victims of child sexual abuse. Some were sexually abused over many years”. Thirteen victims of Dr. Reardon who are seeking damages live in the 19th district. Seven can make a claim and six cannot because of the statute of limitations. The difference for the 6 who cannot seek justice is not the gravity of the crime committed against them. It is not the evidence they have or do not have to prove their case in a court of law – the only difference is their birthday.

The committee must call for a vote on this bill on behalf of the thousands of victims of child sexual assault in Connecticut. This bill is asking that the statute of limitations in the case of child sexual abuse be dropped.

Anonymous: Supports this bill. Due to his career, he feels a need to keep his identity private. The news reports of the tens of thousands of pictures found in Dr. Reardon's home brought back his horrible and painful memories. He doesn't like to go back to that fear and pain he experienced at the hands of Dr. Reardon, but a young and innocent boy was forever changed in those repeated visits to St. Francis Hospital.

The statute of limitations should be changed so that it is fair and just. In cases when there is such hard and compelling evidence, it is difficult to understand how someone who was and is a victim of Dr. Reardon and is up to 48 years of age has legal options, but someone over the age of 48 does not have the same legal rights.

A number of other states have changed their statutes to be more fair and just, and hopefully lawmakers in Connecticut will have the courage and wisdom to do the same

Evelyn Miller: Supports this bill. She is a survivor of incest, beatings, and rape at the hands of her brothers and father. Her mother failed to protect her and the system failed her more than once. A school councilor was told about the abuse but her mother convinced the councilor it was a lie, so nothing was done. After becoming an adult and raising her own family she began to have flashbacks, night and day terrors and fear. Fear that once again no one would believe her. By the time she felt she could prosecute her abusers there was nothing she could do because the statute of limitations had expired.

Most people don't deal with being molested until they are well into their adulthood. They try to block it out the best they can and function on a day to day basis. When a victim is finally able to come forward they need the system to help them. They deserve justice whenever they decide to come forward, even if it takes longer than the thirty years allowed under Connecticut law.

Joyce R. Wood: Supports this bill. When a child is sexually assaulted often the threat of punishment is what keeps a child from disclosing. And when they do tell it is swept under the rug as if it will go away by silence. Whose call is it to say your courage has to come before the age of 48? How long is too long to recover? How long is too long to ask for damages? You can't judge what time is the right time for justice by enforcing a statute of limitations on child sexual abuse.

Dennis M. Fogerty: Supports this bill. He is a victim of sexual abuse by Dr. Reardon. When he reported what had happened to him, no one believed him. Because of the sexual abuse he has had to live a life of torment ever since. He has never had a steady job, finished school, kept friends, or held onto his family.

When there is clear and compelling evidence of the crime of sexual abuse of a child such as film, photographs or other forms of evidence regardless of the time frame you should be allowed to seek justice.

Kathryn Robb: Supports this bill. She was repeatedly molested and sexually assaulted by a family member. Since her abuse occurred in her home there was no safe place to turn. She could not speak about the abuse publicly until she was over 40 years of age. Because it took her so long to speak about the abuse, the statute of limitations had expired and her perpetrator could not be prosecuted. This bill is about giving victims a voice no matter how long after the abuse occurred.

Beth McCabe: Urges the committee to pass this bill. As a victim/survivor of child sexual abuse, she has experienced the effects of her abuse for over 40 years. It took her 25 years to get the courage to name her abuser.

There are many victims of sexual abuse who either do not have the memory, feel guilt or shame or don't have the courage to speak about the abuse until well into their 30's, 40's, 50's or 60's. Several states including Delaware, Maine and Alaska have recognized this fact by eliminating the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse in civil cases. Passage of this bill will help victims seek the justice they deserve and help them in their healing journey.

Brad Hotchkiss: Supports this bill. He is a survivor of childhood sexual assault by a family member from 2nd grade through his senior year of high school. His abuser manipulated him into believing that he was responsible for the abuse, so going to his other family members for help was not a possibility. From the age of 13 until 30 he used alcohol to dull his senses, his pain and anguish. At 30 he stopped using alcohol and began to have flashbacks, debilitating pain, anguish and confusion.

After four years of counseling he was strong enough to disclose the abuse to his family and pursue a civil case against his perpetrator. Having his perpetrator take responsibility for his actions allowed him to get rid of his false feelings of responsibility and complete his healing process.

He was fortunate that his realization came at 30 years old, and was able to move forward a lot sooner than most. Under Connecticut's current statute of limitations if a person doesn't have their realization until their early forties or later, and it takes them 10 years to recover to the point they can confront their perpetrator, they have no legal recourse which can leave their recovery incomplete.

Anonymous: Urges the committee to approve the passage of bill 5473. Because of the sensitive nature of the details of his claims of sexual abuse, he would like to remain anonymous. He was sexually abused by Dr. George Reardon at St. Francis Hospital. For years he was too embarrassed and afraid to admit the abuse, but after the investigation of Dr. Reardon became public knowledge in 1993 it gave him the courage to come forward. He contacted a lawyer and was informed that any claim he could make was barred by the applicable statute of limitations, which was then 17 years from the age of majority, in other words 35 years of age. He had missed the deadline by only a couple of months.

The arbitrary and random application of the provisions of Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-577d, is not fair. Having suffered as much as a person who may have been 47 years old when their claim was filed is not fair. It is a bad situation made worse by an arbitrary statutory deadline.

Anonymous: Supports this bill. He is uncomfortable about coming forward to testify in person, because of the stigma society attaches to these matters. Anonymous is a victim of Dr. George Reardon. He was born in the summer of 1959 and at the time of his abuse the statute of limitations required he file any claim before his 20th birthday. From 1979 until 1991 he faced a statute of limitations bar to any claim he might have. In 1991 the statute was amended to essentially change the deadline to file a claim up to the age of 35. Unfortunately he was not made aware of this change. He consulted a lawyer and filed a claim, but that claim was denied because he once again missed the statute of limitations deadline. In 2002 at 43 years of age, the statute of limitations was changed to allow victims up to age 48 to file a claim. Once again he was not notified by his attorney of the change in law.

In 2007 at the age of 47 he assisted the Hartford Police Department in their investigation of Dr. Reardon by sharing his personal experiences about his abuse. During this time he was instructed by Hartford Police not to tell anyone about the ongoing investigation. He turned 48 that summer. The Hartford Police didn't publicly disclose the discovery of Dr. Reardon's cache of child pornography until November 2007. He immediately sought legal counsel and filed a suit in December 2007. His claim was once again subject to the statute of limitations bar because of his age.

His eligibility to file a claim has changed 5 times over the years. It is very difficult for child sex victims to come forward. To finally have corroborative evidence to support his claim and then not be allowed to file that claim because of a statute of limitations is a horrible injustice.

John Timothy McGuire: Supports this bill. He is 51 years old and has spent most of his life trying to forget what happened in his local church when he was molested by a priest at the age of 8 years. He began abusing drugs by the 5th grade and has used drugs most of his life to dull his senses to help him forget about the abuse. He felt he could not tell his mother or grandmother what had happened because his abuser was a priest and he thought they would not believe him.

An article 3 years ago in the New London Day newspaper about a woman, who was molested by the same priest that had molested him, gave him the courage to come forward and tell his story. He felt it was important to contact the woman's lawyer to give details about his molestation by the same priest, in hopes that his information would help with her claim. During their conversation the attorney asked him his age, and when he told him he was 48 years old they realized that the statute of limitations for him to file a claim expired a week earlier. The attorney explained that his client was also barred from filing a claim because the statute of limitations had expired.

Leona May Page: Supports this bill. She believes this bill would have an impact on current cases involving repeat offenders. When former victims learn of repeat offenses by their perpetrators they are more likely to come forward. This bill would allow their voices to be heard where currently their voices are minimized or silenced by statute. She is a victim of incest and was unable to speak about her abuse until decades later and the statute of limitations had expired for her. The terror she still experiences just by hearing her abusers name, is a terror that does not come with a statute of limitations.

John C. Brandon: Supports this bill. He is currently 57 years old and was abused by Dr. George Reardon at the age of 10. The actions of his abuser are burned in his memory, but as a kid he didn't feel empowered to question the orders of a doctor and thought he was in a safe place at the time of the abuse. Until the actions of Dr. Reardon were made public by the press he never knew who perpetrated his abuse. His sense of having done something wrong himself, which kids tend to do even if they are not at fault, prevented him from telling anyone about the incident of his abuse. Due to the current statute of limitations he is unable to file a claim against his perpetrator.

Anne Latina Brown, RN, BSN, MA: Has worked as a nurse at Riverview Hospital in Middletown and Connecticut Children's Place in East Windsor mostly with adolescents who were sexually abused at young ages. Most of these children have periods of extreme rage, and have no sense of themselves as people – only as objects. There is almost no chance these children will go on to live normal lives.

Upwards of 90% of the women she has worked with were sexually abused at a young age and have severe addictions to alcohol and drugs. These women felt powerless as children and often threatened with harm if they reported the abuse. They most often learn to cope with the disturbing memories by drugging or drinking themselves. Obviously it would be near impossible for these young victims to come forward and report their abuse to authorities.

Ed Blair: Supports the passage of this bill. He is in total agreement there should be no statute of limitations on a victim's right to sue.

Joanne P. Blair: Is absolutely in favor of this bill. With the passage of this bill victims could sue for damages at any time.

Anna Doroghazi, Director of Public Policy and Communication for Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS): CONNSACS is the statewide association of Connecticut's nine community-based rape crisis programs. They believe that survivors of child sexual abuse are never too old for justice, therefore they support this bill.

She occasionally receives phone calls from survivors of sexual violence, who after years of silence, have finally found the strength to publicly confront the abuse that they experienced as children. She responds to each of them with the same question: How old are you? Asking a person's age to start a conversation about sexual abuse feels arbitrary and callous, but when justice has an expiration date, it is the only way to begin.

Eliminating the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases in Connecticut would not be without precedent. Alaska, Maine and Delaware have already repealed their statute of limitations for civil actions related to child sexual abuse, and legislation to eliminate the statute of limitations has been considered in the past year in Oregon, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Arizona. There is no good time to make justice inaccessible. Survivors of child sexual abuse need support along their path to healing. This process should not be subject to arbitrary deadlines.

Mary DeLucia, Sexual Assault Adult Advocate the Susan B. Anthony Project: She has spoken with quite a few adult survivors of child sexual assault and they were either afraid of telling their families about what happened to them or have already told them, and were not believed. When they are finally able to speak about what happened to them many are too old to file a claim in Connecticut because the statute of limitations has expired for them. This bill needs to be passed because sometimes it can take up to 30 years or more for a victim of child sexual assault just to be brave enough to acknowledge that they were a victim.

April Raczka, MS MFT, Director New Britain/Hartford Sexual Assault Crisis Services YWCA New Britain: This agency provides services to over 45 towns in Hartford County and Tolland County. Some of the most vulnerable clients they have worked with have been victimized at the hands of Dr. George Reardon. In 2008 when evidence was discovered and the case was brought forward this agency spoke with dozens of men and women who found it difficult to express in words what this finding meant, given the fact their perpetrator had since died. These victims were children when this abuse occurred, and now as adults report that their healing was only just about to begin. Since we know that this scenario is all too common for child abuse survivors it is essential that the statute of limitation be eliminated. As victims of a sexual abuse crime who did not have a voice, they deserve to have justice served.

Other employees of the New Britain/Hartford Sexual Assault Crisis Services, YWCA New Britain also spoke in support of this bill: Sandra Wilkos, MS, Becky Petersen, State Certified Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor/Advocate, Christen Cassidy, Intern & Sexual Assault Crisis Advocate/Counselor, Kimmie Shellman, State Certified Sexual Assault Crisis Councilor/Advocate.

Professor Marci A. Hamilton: Supports this bill. She holds the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City where she specializes in church/state relations and constitutional law.

Historically, the statutes of limitations for child sex abuse, exploitation, and assault have been too short and have protected the child predator while cutting off meritorious claims before victims were ready to come forward. This bill rights the balance.

Most victims are abused by family or family acquaintances and virtually all need decades before they are ready to come forward. This bill would protect the children of Connecticut by making it possible for victims to come forward and identify their perpetrators in a court of law. It would also bring delayed but sill welcome, justice to the victims. This is a sunshine law for children. There are three compelling public purposes served by this bill:

1. The identification of previously unknown child predators to the public so children will not be abused in the future;

2. Giving child sex abuse survivors a day in court; and

3. Remedying the wrong done to child sex abuse survivors caused by an overly short statute of limitations that placed predators and their enablers in a preferred position to the victims

Previous testimony stated that this bill would create a log jam of suits. It is a fact that child sexual abuse is a tort that people rarely fabricate. It is not like a slip and fall, where lying about injuring yourself on someone's premises does not implicate your sexuality, development, or imply a traumatic past. The shame attached to child sex abuse deters large numbers of false claims, which is why there have been very few false claims in response to window legislation in other states, including California and Delaware. Out of the one thousand plus claims filed under similar legislation in California, only a handful were false, but they were efficiently and quickly washed out of the system through a certificate of merit provision.

Previous testimony stated that similar legislation to this bill in Delaware and California bankrupted the Dioceses there. In fact, the bankruptcy of the Dioceses of Wilmington Delaware was a voluntary bankruptcy, which was intended to protect assets and avoid trials that would have revealed the Catholic hierarchy's secrets regarding their role in endangering children. In San Diego the bankruptcy court publicly stated that the diocese was not honest about its actual wealth and that there was no justification for the bankruptcy filing.

Finally, similar legislation in California brought justice to a large number of victims, exposed the identities of more than 300 perpetrators, and did not result in cuts in church services or even make a dent in ambitious plans for new cathedrals. Rather, the settlements were paid out of insurance proceeds and the sale of properties not dedicated to religious use.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Cary Silverman, Esq., Co-Counsel to American Tort Reform Association (ATRA): Although sexual abuse against a child is intolerable and should be punished both through criminal prosecution and civil claims ATRA is against the passage of this bill.

ATRA's interest in this bill relates to preserving fundamental legal principles in civil cases and avoiding a serious problem that can arise in highly sympathetic situations like this one, namely that bad facts can sometimes lead to the development of bad law. When legislation is driven by emotion, there can be adverse impacts that well-meaning legislators may not intend. To avoid this problem, lawmakers must approach these difficult cases with an appreciation of all the interests affected. ATRA believes that in order for statutes of limitations to provide the predictability and certainty for which they are intended, they must be, at minimum: (1)finite; and (2) that any changes must be prospective only.

Statutes of limitations are important because some period is needed to balance an individual's ability to bring a lawsuit with the ability to mount a fair defense and to protect courts from stale or fraudulent claims. As time passes, witnesses become difficult to locate or pass away, records are lost r discarded, and memories fade. Without statutes of limitations, litigation can become a “he said-she said” situation. There's no magic number as to what is a fair length of time to bring a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations are inherently arbitrary. Legislators must strike a difficult balance.

ATRA believes this bill goes too far by eliminating the statute of limitations entirely, and subjecting organizations to indefinite liability. If enacted, the bill sets a dangerous precedent for other types of litigation, in addition to placing nonprofit organizations such as schools, boys and girls clubs, and other organizations that work with children at risk for claims based on actions of employees that are long gone and where paperwork no longer exists.

In sum, while the reasons and motivation behind this bill are understandable, it is important that Connecticut's civil justice system maintain the predictability and certainty of statutes of limitations. This bill is neither finite nor prospective in nature, and ATRA is concerned with the precedent it sets for the future. If the legislature begins to make policy decisions with regard to statutes of limitations that are based on emotion rather than sound public policy and respect for the rule of law, there will be chaos.

MetroHartford Alliance, Hartford's Chamber of Commerce: Urges the committee to reject this bill. The Alliance's mission is to ensure that the Hartford Region competes aggressively and successfully for jobs, talent and capital.

While they fully recognize the seriousness of the claims that have led to the promulgation of this bill, they are very concerned about the potential precedents and implications that are embedded in enacting legislation on a retroactive basis which thereby undermines the purpose and history of statutes of limitation, which this bill proposes to remove entirely.

Statutes of limitations are designed to protect individuals, corporations, and institutions from limitless litigation and to provide them and their insurers with a degree of legal certainty that makes it possible to evaluate, fund, and manage risk. There is a need to balance plaintiffs' needs with the equally important imperative of legal certainty and predictability, and the challenge of competing legal rights.

Professor William N. Eskridge, Jr., The John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence, at Yale Law School: Mr. Eskridge has been retained by Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford to address legal issues associated with this bill. He testified on his own behalf and does not support passage of this bill.

At thirty years after the age of majority (as much as 48 years), Connecticut already has one of the most liberal statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse civil cases in the United States. There is no cogent rationale for creating limitless opportunity to assert civil claims, especially in light of our State's limitation period for criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse in CGS 54-193a (30 years after the victim reaches the age of majority or 5 years from notification by the victim, whichever is earlier).

The purpose of statutory limitations is to encourage potential plaintiffs to pursue their meritorious claims promptly. The current limitations period is very generous, and abolishing it retroactively would strongly undermine fundamental legal and public policies supporting limitations periods, including repose and reducing uncertainty.

Statute of Repose allows individuals, businesses small and large and nonprofit enterprises to have a firm handle on their potential liabilities. This helps them figure out appropriate document-retention policies, the content of personnel record, and the need for insurance. Elimination of limitations entirely in child sexual abuse cases would impose nearly impossible burdens on these institutions.

There is no doubt that child sexual abuse is an important public problem, and one to which this state has devoted a great deal of attention and resources. The existing statute of limitations is exceedingly generous and should not be eliminated, as proposed in this bill.

Professor Thomas W. Merrill: Professor of Law, at Columbia Law School, has been retained by Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford to address issues presented in this bill. His client is opposed to this bill.

This bill would amend the already-lengthy statute of limitations prescribed in existing law, Connecticut General Statutes 52-577d by eliminating the statute of limitations altogether. As amended, the statute would provide that “an action to recover damages for personal injury to a minor, including emotional distress, caused by sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual assault may be brought by such person at any time after the act complained of. Furthermore, the proposed bill would make this change explicitly retroactive. This bill is thus a considerably more radical measure than Raised Bill 6432, which the committee declined to take action on last year.

Given that the existing statute of limitations is already extraordinarily long, abolishing the statute of limitations is unwarranted, unless the intent is to affect pending litigation that might otherwise be time barred. Amend the statute of limitations in order to affect pending litigation is not a legitimate basis for legislative action.

Insurance Association of Connecticut: Is opposed to this bill because it seeks to retroactively extend the statute of limitations from thirty years to no time limit for civil actions based upon claims of sexual assault of a minor.

The time restraints established by statutes of limitations ensure that information is available and evidence does not become stale. Section 1 of this bill will make it extremely difficult to gather evidence that may be relevant to the prosecution of a claim. Furthermore, eliminating the statute of limitations makes it more likely that evidence will no longer exist and parties and witnesses may no longer be living.

Other states have overwhelmingly rejected extreme proposals, like section 1 of this bill, to retroactively expand the statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits. For those reasons, the Insurance Association of Connecticut urges the rejection of Section 1 of this bill or, at the very least, removal of the retroactive effect of the proposal.

The remainder of testimony in opposition to this bill came from a panel made up of the following people:

Monsignor John J. McCarthy, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Hartford: Enactment of this bill could divert resources currently used by various organizations connected with the Catholic Church in Connecticut to further their mission on behalf of all residents of Connecticut, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Apart from the government, various Catholic organizations in Connecticut comprise the largest provider of education and of social and health care services in this state.

Wesley W. Horton, Law Firm of Horton, Shields & Knox: Statutes of limitations serve an important public purpose. One such purpose is that witnesses may die or their memories may fade. This is a particularly serious problem for 52-577d because any plaintiff by definition was under 18 when the acts complained of occurred. If this bill becomes law, a case could be brought anytime after the plaintiffs 48th birthday. Since the witnesses for the defendant could have been much older than the plaintiff was as a teenager, the death of potential defense witnesses, or the fading of their memories, is likely to be a major problem. A related problem is the potential loss of documents as time goes by.

Erin Neil, Director of the Safe Environment Program for the Diocese of Bridgeport: There is no institution public or private that is as serious about preventing child sexual abuse as the Catholic Church. In 2002, the Catholic Bishops launched child abuse prevention efforts known as safe environment programs; and these are unmatched in the United States. The Catholic Church provides the largest and most consistent child sexual abuse prevention effort in the State.

This bill is problematic. If there is anything we've learned about prevention, early detection and timely reporting are critical; something this bill does not include. Extending the time period for victims to come forward does nothing to keep children safe.

L. Martin Nussbaum, Esq., Co-chair of the Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons Religious Institution Group speaking on behalf of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference: Because of persistent, outsized media coverage of the Catholic sexual abuse scandal since 2002, there is a tendency by some to think that Catholic institutions have a more severe problem than others. They do not. The Conference requests that the committee reject this bill and also that they revise Connecticut law in a manner that is “All In, All Even,” to wit: that the law treats public and private entities alike, beginning with the elimination of sovereign immunity; that the law ceases to have retroactive effect; and that the law serve the cause of prevention by promoting earlier reporting of abuse so perpetrators can be removed.

Michael C. Culhane, Executive Director of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference: This bill would retroactively lift Connecticut's Statute of Limitations regarding childhood sexual abuse cases against Catholic – and other private and non-public – institutions.

Acts of childhood abuses must be regarded as a despicable crime as these acts are perpetrated against our most innocent and vulnerable citizens – the youth of our State and country. While one act against any child is “one act too many,” we must acknowledge as a fact that no sector of our society has escaped this brutality.

The purpose of this bill is to protect all children, but it should be noted that children can be harmed – not only in Catholic and private institutions – but also in government settings. Children in one setting deserve the same protection as those in another setting and therefore, this bill must be “All in – All Even”. What he means by this phrase is:

Any legislation must be fair in treating all public and non-public

Reverend Ted Tumicki, Bishop's delegate for Safe Environments for the Diocese of Norwich: In 2007, members of this Committee, voiced their interest in what the Catholic Church was doing to prevent child sexual abuse and stated that, if the Church was doing more to prevent abuse, the Legislature would not have to revisit the statute of limitations issue.

Since first becoming aware of the problem on a national level in the mid 1980's, the Church has responded. By 1990 many Roman Catholic Dioceses including all three Roman Catholic Dioceses in Connecticut had sexual misconduct policies in place. In 2002, these efforts were ramped up to a state of extreme vigilance, awareness and prevention education. Evidence collected by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice indicates that by 1992 the number of priests and deacons abusing minors was fewer than 50. In 2008, the number was 10, out of a total church membership of approximately 70 million. By way of comparison, the Associated Press reported in 2007 that between 2001 and 2005 an average of 514 public school teachers per year had abused children and teenagers. In light of such stark facts, you cannot help but wonder why members of this committee and others keep focusing on Catholic clergy abuse while largely ignoring the problem that exists elsewhere on a statewide level.

Reported by: Jacqueline Fordiani

Date: April 6, 2010