Sponsors withdraw Conn. bill waiving limits on sex abuse lawsuits

Connecticut state Rep. Beth Bye.
Connecticut state Rep. Beth Bye.

.- Citing a lack of legislative support, sponsors have withdrawn a controversial bill that would have waived a 30-year time limit for sexual abuse victims to sue. Catholic leaders who opposed the bill said the move was “good public policy.”

One co-sponsor of H.B. 5473, State Rep. Beth Bye, said backers did not believe it is likely the bill be enacted into law with so few days left in the legislative session, The Catholic Transcript reports.

She said she raised the bill after dozens of victims contacted her, including victims of the late Dr. George Reardon.

Reardon has been accused of photographing and molesting his young patients at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, a Catholic hospital.

The Hartford Courant opposed the bill in an editorial, questioning whether the hospital could properly defend itself against decades-old allegations.

State Sen. Mary Ann Handley, another co-sponsor of the withdrawn bill, said work would continue on the issue.

“We are running a marathon, not a sprint,” she commented.

Michael C. Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, said he was pleased the bill was withdrawn for “a number of reasons.”

Culhane said the bill discriminated against private and non-public institutions. He also noted that no part of the bill is aimed at protecting children, which he called “a very, very important aspect.”

Culhane also explained it was very possible the bill would impair the ability of the three Catholic dioceses of Connecticut to provide health care, education and other social services

While similar bills had passed in Delaware, Alaska, Maine and Florida, the Connecticut bill differed in that it would apply retroactively.

Archbishop of Hartford Henry J. Mansell said in a column he sent to The Catholic Transcript that the withdrawal of the bill was “good public policy.”

Archbishop Mansell also wrote that the sexual abuse of minors is “a heinous act, a heart-sickening event, a grievous sin and a serious crime.”

He pledged continued work on effective abuse prevention efforts and on assistance for victims “with all the means at our disposal.”

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