Those who have been the victims of sexual abuse or incest would have more time to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser, under legislation being considered at the Capitol. The bill would lift the statute of limitations for taking civil action, which currently is limited to before the victim turns 35.
Several deaf men, who say they were abused by priests as children, urged lawmakers during a hearing at the Capitol Tuesday to end that restriction. One man, speaking through his daughter, said there should be no time limit for delivering justice and a crime is a crime no matter when it happened.
One man told lawmakers through an interpreter that his suffering has lasted for years, and it was many years before he could even get anyone to believe that he was abused by a member of the clergy.
The bill also provides a three-year window for victims who have been barred from bringing lawsuits in the past to file for civil action. That has several religious organizations worried that it would leave them open to a flurry of lawsuits.
Scott Anderson with the Wisconsin Council of Churches says those cases can be so old that many of the witnesses and even the alleged abuser could be deceased. If those cases are allowed to move forward, he says it could leave many congregations bankrupt from lawsuits that are very difficult to defend against.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:00)