MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Midwest Communications) - Milwaukee’s new Catholic archbishop says a bill that makes it easier to sue abusive priests would bankrupt his diocese and others in Wisconsin. Jerome Listecki testified Tuesday against a bill to end the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse to sue the priests who molested them.
Milwaukee Senate Democrat Lena Taylor, who co-sponsored the bill, admits it probably won’t get the support for a full vote. Another sponsor, Senate Democrat Julie Lassa of Stevens Point, said victims need time to get the courage to prosecute their abusers and begin the healing process – and many never get to do it now. Those victims must now file civil suits before age 35. The new bill would end the age limit for future cases, and give current victims above 35 three years to sue.
Listecki said the bill would drain money from the church’s charitable causes and cause them to go under. Jerry Topczewski of the Milwaukee Archdiocese said the people in the pews would pay the damages, and not the abusive priests. The Milwaukee Archdiocese has paid $28 million in sex abuse claims through last June. California and Delaware have ended their time limits for filing abuse suits, and a Wisconsin Assembly committee endorsed it – although it has not been scheduled for a full vote in that house. The Senate Judiciary Committee held Tuesday’s hearing.