At the Capitol, state legislators have introduced proposals to help victims of child sexual assault and abuse by clergy. State Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) said the Child Victims Act removes one of the biggest obstacles to victims — the existing statute of limitations.
“Statutes of limitations. On raping children?”
In Wisconsin, a person who who has experienced sexual assault by an adult, has until age 35 to bring a civil case. The bill from Taylor and Representatives Chris Taylor and Melissa Sargent of Madison would eliminate that age limit. “I’m in my forties, and it’s taken me this long to fully understand what has happened to me, and the role that the church played” said Debbie McNulty of Madison, who was victimized by member of her church.
The legislators said this is the fourth time since 2002 that a bill like this has been proposed.
The Clergy Mandatory Reporter Act will end the secrecy. It’s time for all legislators to stand with the victims of child abuse, rather than defend archaic laws that shield perpetrators.
My full statement here: https://t.co/Xv2iGA3M24
— Chris Taylor (@ChrisTaylorWI) August 7, 2019
Children who’ve been sexually abused by members of their faith community are easily manipulated to keep quiet. Rebecca Martin Byrd of Madison said she was abused as child by a member of her church.
“When I first told my pastor, he told me that if I told my story it would ruin my perpetrator’s life. That it would make the church look bad, and if the church looked bad then people wouldn’t come to church, and if people don’t come to church then they don’t get saved. And if they don’t get saved then they burn in hell. And that would be my fault.”
A separate bill would remove an exemption on private conversations with clergy — including Catholic confession — from the state’s “mandatory reporters.” law. Representative Taylor said clergy are currently designated, “but . . . unless they received the information about the abuse confidentially, or privately. And unfortunately, that’s how the information is received most of the time. And so it basically nullifies the ability to report. Our bill gets rid of that exception.”