SNAP wants to end Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse

Posted at 8:10 PM, Feb 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 07:22:35-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Many of us watched the documentary with a Baltimore tie called 'The Keepers' on Netflix.

The Keepers was about alleged abuse at Archbishop Kehough High School in the 1970s. On Thursday, some are in Annapolis are trying to change the statute of limitation laws.

You may remember Jane Roe of the Doe vs. Roe case from the documentary, in 1995 she sued the church and a priest for child abuse.

"The case was dismissed because of the statute of limitations," said Teresa Lancaster.

Jane Roe's real name is Teresa Lancaster and she says her abuse took place at Archbishop Keough High by Father Joseph Maskell. Lancaster says this was a frightening time in her life that still impacts her today.

"It was 1970 to 1972 and no one would believe me a 16-year-old against priest, plus he had a gun and he threatened us," said Lancaster.

Lancaster was protesting with S.N.A.P., Survivors Network of those Abused by Priest. They held up pictures of victims at the age when the alleged sexual abuse took place. Lancaster says sexual abuse in the church is not just old news.

"It's happening now. It didn't stop, you still got the predator priest out there being covered up by the Bishops," Lancaster said.

About 45 states and Washington D.C. have enacted laws specifically addressing recovering damages from this type of abuse. The current law says, for child abuse, you have 20 years after you have reached the age of majority, that's 38 years old.

SNAP would like Maryland to abolish the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse altogether. Some people may wonder why it takes so long for someone that is a victim of child abuse to come forward and talk about it.

"You have to come to terms with it in your own mind and that takes time. The average person, it's 20 years or more," said Lancaster.

"It takes years and years for victims to be able to identify their experience. So the law really limits for the victim to get their justice," said Patricia Cronin, the Executive Director of the Family Tree.

"They say “Pray for those survivors”, enough prayer we want action," said Lancaster.