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The bottom line: It's too late for legal action against most predatory priests

The backs of several priests in robes looking at a painting of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Photo:Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The more than 1,000 victims of child sexual abuse by Pennsylvanian Catholic priests are unlikely to see justice carried out on their oppressors, as the revelations from a grand jury's damning report have likely surfaced too late for any legal repercussions.

The bottom line: For abuse cases in Pennsylvania, a child victim has until they are 30-years-old to sue or until 50-years-old to file criminal charges, according to the New York Times. A majority of the allegations in the report occurred decades ago and only 2 priests are facing criminal charges at this point.

The grand jury recommended that the statute of limitation laws be changed and waived for two years for victims of the priests.

Quote"No piece of legislation can predict the point at which a victim of child sex abuse will find the strength to come forward."
— Pennsylvania Grand Jury

What to watch: There is currently a bill before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would raise the age to 50 for victims to sue their abuser, and eliminate the time limit for criminal prosecution in sexual abuse cases entirely. The Republican House Majority Leader has said that he expects to schedule a vote on the bill this fall, according to CNN.

The other side: The church has lobbied against these efforts, according to the Times. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, which is the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and dioceses, has argued the legislation would "lead to the closure of parishes, schools, and ministries of today’s Catholics, who are in no way responsible for abuse that occurred decades ago."

The big picture: Only Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming have completely eliminated statutes of limitations for felony sex crimes.

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