Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report: Clergy Abuse & the statute of limitations (aug. 2018)
August 22, 2018
In response to the Pennsylvania grand jury report released on August 14, 2018 detailing its investigation of clergy abuse activities in that state and reporting that more than 1000 children were sexually abused by hundreds of priests over decades with bishops covering up their crimes Restorative Justice International (RJI) announces its position on findings. Having worked with victims of sexual abuse since 2001 in the United States and globally and urging the use of restorative justice to ensure accountability in each case, RJI today supports lifting the criminal statute of limitations in all sexual abuse crimes as recommended by the Pennsylvania grand jury.
RJI has advocated for victims-driven restorative justice in cases of sexual abuse of children, and adults, which requires direct offender accountability while allowing victims to experience some level of healing. In the past, we have lobbied for the end of the statute of limitations in civil cases (California). Today in response to the enormity of the seriousness of the grand jury report, which is not the first of its kind globally (Australia), RJI calls for the lifting of all criminal statute of limitations in clergy abuse, and institutional abuse, cases. No other remedy will allow for full accountability in these criminal cases. No artificial barrier regarding when the abuse occurred should remain that prohibits victims of abuse from seeking justice and receiving it. All those who hid the abuse or enabled abusers to continue should be held accountable under the law. It is our view that this position regarding the statute of limitations should not only apply in the state of Pennsylvania but nationally as well as globally.
Some continue to ask for forgiveness for this abuse, even from the office of the Pope; however, in all cases that are criminal in nature which is every case of clergy, and institutional, abuse the law that must apply is the rule of law. RJI believes that restorative justice principles still do apply in that direct offender accountability is important for the victim and the offender; however, not while ignoring the rule of law. Repentance and forgiveness are key tenets of restorative justice but in applying these principles they do not ignore the needed application of criminal law. The severity of these child sexual abuse cases wherever they are found require full accountability.
RJI does not shut the door on the need for victims-driven restorative justice in the cases of clergy abuse and will continue to make itself available to any and all victims of abuse who seek to know more about restorative justice processes.
We provide the following details of the grand jury report from The Inquirer (August 14th):