Connecticut Catholic Bishops sent a letter to parishioners statewide this weekend voicing their opposition to pending legislation that would help victims of sexual abuse by priests. WNPR's Ray Hardman reports:
House Bill 5473 was crafted in response to the hundreds of victims of the late Dr. George Reardon, who for decades allegedly committed sexual acts against children in his office at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. Currently there are 135 abuse cases pending against St. Francis Hospital and the Hartford Archdiocese, but many more cases have since passed the 30 year statute of limitations. The pending legislation would retroactively eliminate the statute of Limitations, and allow these victims to file suit.
But Connecticut Bishops worry this measure may open the floodgates of frivolous lawsuits against the church, and "undermine the mission of the Catholic church in Connecticut". Norwich Archbishop Michael Cote, Hartford Archbishop Henry Mansell, and Bridgeport Archbishop William Lori signed a letter encouraging parishioners to contact their state senator and representative to express their opposition to the bill.
The letter points out that the bill would allow people in their 50s, 60s or 70s to file suit, even though their alleged abuser has long since died. State Representative Beth Bye is co-sponsor of the bill and says legislation is written to avoid that possibility.
Similar legislation last year passed though various committees, but was never taken up before the end of the session.
For WNPR. I'm Ray Hardman.