Proposal to lift statute of limitations for sex abuse victims

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The release of 6,000 pages of documents revealing priest misconduct by the Archdioceses of Milwaukee has prompted state lawmakers to propose a bill temporarily lifting the statute of limitations.

John Pilmaier's story is depicted in those documents. He was abused by Fr. David Hanser in the second grade and due to the statute of limitations, Hanser will never face justice. Pilmaier strongly believes laws should be changed to protect victims, not predators.

"He took me to the rectory and pulled my pants down and fondled me," says Pilmaier. "He was able to elude justice because of the statute of limitations."

State law requires child abuse victims to file their cases before they turn 35, but a group of Democratic lawmakers is hoping to change that.

"The clock shouldn't be ticking when you're a child and you've been victimized," says Democratic State Senator Lena Taylor. "At the very least, we should want to make sure that people have a voice."

Senator Taylor is proposing a bill that would remove the age limit for two years, essentially allowing church abuse victims to seek justice. Similar proposals have failed in two consecutive legislative sessions, but Taylor believes there's momentum with the latest document release.

Republican State Senator Alberta Darling says she's open to the idea.

"Everybody wants to protect victims and domestic violence and clergy abuse and a lot of the issues related to abusing our children, our women and men, we have to address," says Senator Darling.

"Limitations of child sexual abuse need to be abolished because we can't put it on the kids," adds Pilmaier.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee will reportedly oppose any measure to change the statute of limitations.