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These days it is virtually impossible to read the news or watch TV without seeing a story about the sexual abuse of minors, particularly by members of the Catholic clergy. What was once thought to be a handful of scattered, isolated incidents now has the appearance of a full-blown international cover-up. Unfortunately, the laws of many states are woefully inadequate to protect the rights of these innocent victims.

The Michigan legislature is currently considering a bill that would make our state one of the nation’s leaders in protecting the rights of sex abuse victims. House Bill 5699 would extend the statute of limitations, allowing many individuals who were not aware they had a claim for many years to have their day in court. The bill as initially introduced would also provide a two year window for victims, many of whom have been without legal recourse for decades, to file suit and have their cases heard on the merits. This latter provision is incredibly important to people who have suffered for years while the extent of the problem was hidden from public view.

Pedophiles – and the institutions that enable their behavior – should be held accountable for their horrifying actions. Sexual predators should have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives, knowing that they could someday have to answer in open court for their wrongdoing. Michigan now has the opportunity to take the lead in protecting children, not criminals.

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