Victims of sex abuse by priests say cover-ups by those in the know are still a problem. A monsignor in Pennsylvania was sentenced to prison this week for his role in covering up sex abuse by others – the first in the U.S. to go to prison for that. Barbara Blaine, head of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, says Illinois prosecutors should address the problem here.
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“In Pennsylvania, prosecutors there are recognizing how significant the role of enabling a predator is, and we’re hoping that here in Illinois, more victims will speak up, and we hope our lawmakers will heed the outcry of victims, and change our laws of Illinois so that they’re tougher on predators,” she said today (Friday) as the group’s annual weekend-long meeting began in Rosemont.
In particular, she is concerned about the statute of limitations in Illinois. Those who were victimized as children must make a claim by the time they are 28. She says by age 28, only 20-30 percent of child victims are able to understand that they were victims and to articulate the particulars in court.
Blaine says she is disappointed with the efforts of the church over the last decade to address the problem. In 2002, when Wilton Gregory was the bishop of Belleville and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he promised that no priest who abused children would continue to serve in ministry. However, a Pennsylvania grand jury in 2011 discovered dozens who still were, and Blaine suspects that would be true in any diocese.