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Statute of limitations extension for sexual abuse cases is urged

BOSTON -- A key State House committee is recommending the state extend the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse by 10 years.

The limit is now 15 years. The Judiciary Committee yesterday recommended extending that to 25 years.

Advocates for victims of child sexual abuse had pushed for lifting the statute of limitations completely, saying it sometimes takes decades for victims to face the abuse they suffered as children.

The state's four Catholic bishops, including Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, praised the recommendation in a written statement.

``The Commonwealth's law enforcement officials should be given the tools they need to remove sexual predators from our communities. We support the proposed increase in the criminal statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of children," the statement said.

The bishops also recognized and apologized for the ``past sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church." The clergy sex abuse scandal prompted the push to increase the statute of limitations.

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said he was disappointed the committee only recommended a 10-year extension. He said he supports eliminating the statute of limitations.

``The passage of time should not be an obstacle to law enforcement when it comes to punishing those who hurt children," he said. ``When someone is brave enough to come forward and report sexual abuse, the law must support them in every way possible."

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