Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Call for Statewide Sex Abuse Probes of Catholic Dioceses

The movie Spotlight won and Academy Award for the portrayal of the Boston Globes exposure of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston.  Meanwhile, Pope Francis' panel established to hold prelates accountable for cover ups seems moribund, and in India, the Church continues to hide sexual abuse crimes and seemingly pretend that they are not happening.  And, as noted before, United States and Ireland have topped the list in sexual abuse cases by Catholic clergy, but the list of countries with sex abuse scandals is lengthy and includes, but is not limited to Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Norway, Poland, US, Tanzania, and Philippines.  Given this track record and the recent explosive grand jury report out of Pennsylvania, some members of the Pennsylvania legislature are calling for investigations of every diocese in that state.  The Church has made it clear that it will not police itself. Such investigations should, in fact, be conducted for EVERY diocese in America.  Here are highlights from The Morning Call on the developments in Pennsylvania:
Breathing deeply to control his anger and shame over his childhood rape, a state lawmaker called on prosecutors and the Legislature to use the power of their offices to safeguard children and punish the Catholic Church and other institutions that protect sex abusers they employ.
For decades, the Catholic Church has shielded predatory priests, said Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, a victim of clergy abuse. The most recent evidence of those "systematic cover-ups," Rozzi said, is outlined in last week's state grand jury report that accuses two bishops overseeing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown of allowing at least 50 priests and other religious leaders to sexually abuse hundreds of children for decades.
It must end now, Rozzi said at a news conference Wednesday in the state Capitol.
Rozzi, along with Rep. Tim Murt, R-Montgomery, called on the state's 67 county district attorneys to conduct grand jury investigations into their local Catholic dioceses and set up phone hotlines to allow victims to step forward.
They want the Legislature to adopt Murt's bill, which would temporarily lift the civil law statute of limitations. The bill would provide a two-year window from the law's enactment for victims to file civil claims, no matter how old the alleged abuse and cover-up.
"For me, as most of you know, this is personal," Rozzi said.  When Rozzi was 13, he was raped by an Allentown Diocese priest, the Rev. Edward Graff.
Murt, also a Catholic, said the Altoona-Johnstown grand jury report is far worse than anything he read in a 2012 Philadelphia grand jury report that found the Philadelphia Archdiocese covered up priest sexual abuse.
The lawmakers' ire was not only directed at the Catholic diocese, however. They also blasted Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who they claim has bottled up Murt's legislation, House Bill 951, since it was introduced in April 2015.
Murt's bill is not the only one that deals with the statute of limitations. In the House, Rep. Michael O'Brien, D-Philadelphia, and former Rep. Louis Bishop, D-Philadelphia, also a child sex-abuse victim, introduced bills. Bills also have been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton; Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin; Andy Dinniman, D-Chester; and John Rafferty, R-Montgomery.

Note that it is a Republican allegedly bottling up the bill that would protect children and hopefully identify child rapists and predators.  

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