July 7, 2012

New York law puts older pedophilia cases off-limits

7-7-2012 New York:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - He is a former altar boy, now in his 30s, who says a small-town parish priest won his trust, sexually abused him, often violently, and left him too ashamed to tell anyone for years.

It is the kind of allegation that has shaken the Roman Catholic Church and other institutions and led to trials, convictions and millions of dollars in civil settlements.

The difference, in this case, is that the former priest, Gary Mercure, cannot be charged or tried in court because his alleged crimes occurred in New York, where state law gives victims of child sex abuse only until they are 23 years old to make a complaint.

It is one of the most restrictive statutes of limitation nationwide.

Now, with the convictions of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and Philadelphia Monsignor William Lynn putting a powerful spotlight on pedophilia, activists and victims hope they can finally change that law and pursue cases that have been out of reach.

"It's a slap in the face to see somebody walk away from it," said a California restaurant worker, who alleges a decade of abuse by Mercure, starting when he was an altar boy aged 7 or 8.

"The Sandusky thing brings everything back up," he added. It is Reuters' policy not to identify victims or alleged victims of sex-related crimes. ..For the rest of this story: by Ellen Wulfhorst

No comments: