Debate over retro-activity continues


Last year a bill addressing the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases overwhelmingly passed in the House. That bill included an amendment with retroactivity so that the new extension of the statue of limitations would apply to past cases. That bill stalled in the Senate and a new bill this year passed in the Senate that did not include the retro-activity. Victims say the bill isn’t doing enough.

Both sides of the argument on retro activity agree that the statue of limitations on child sex abuse should be eliminated. However, past victims believe the retro activity clause will give them the justice they deserve. 

Shaun Dougherty was a victim of abuse and is fighting for retro-activity. He said, “Without retroactivity, everybody that was found out in that AG’s report last year, will be off the hook scot-free.” 

Representative Judy Ward voted against the original bill with retro-activity and explained the difficulty in her decision. She says that she believes making laws that go back in the past is unconstitutional. She explained, “This should never happen and if it happens, it is such a heinous crime there should be no statue of limitations moving forward. I agree with that. It’s just always the retro-activity that i get hung up on.” 

With retro-activity, Dougherty feels that victims like himself will be able to find those responsible for the abuse and for covering it up. He said, “People like me will come forward. People like me will file suit. We will go through discovery and this community through the newspapers, through judge rulings, through court findings will learn who in this community is a pedophile and who in this community is willing to cover it up. 

Representative Ward agrees that those people deserve punishment but believes that when lawmakers start effecting the past, it goes against the constitution. “It creates a Pandora’s Box,” she said, “So in the future, other things can be retro-active. That’s the issue I have. My issue is purely a constitutional issue.”

Dougherty along with Representative Mark Rozzi have made claims that the catholic church has paid lobbyists to sway legislators.  Rozzi said, “At the end of the day they’re being paid millions of dollars and what we found out was when our bill passed the House 180-115 and went to the Senate, the Catholic Conference hired 39 lobbyists to work 50 senators.”

Representative Ward has denied those claims.

Rozzi also has claimed that a new grand jury report is waiting to be released that could change lawmaker’s mind but, the Attorney General’s office has not confirmed an on-going investigation.  

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