Whitmer supports ‘window’ for priest survivors to sue

Target 8

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD)  — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she would support a law to open a legal window in Michigan for survivors of Catholic priests and other molesters to sue over childhood sexual assaults.

In other states, including Minnesota and California, so-called “window” laws, which pauses the statute of limitations, have led to multi-million dollar settlements between survivors of decades-old assaults and the Catholic church.

“I do support expanding the rights of victims to bring lawsuits, for prosecutors to bring charges,” Whitmer told Target 8 on Friday. “I think that’s something that’s really important. So I do personally support it. We’ve got a legislature that drafts and writes the laws that come to my desk. I would certainly look favorably if they took that action.” 

State Sen. Winnie Brinks and State Rep. David LaGrand, both Democrats, said they were disappointed last year when window legislation failed in Michigan.

The Catholic church was among those who lobbied against it.

Target 8 recently revealed that 14 priests had molested at least 33 kids in the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese over the decades, most without consequence.

Some of the priests are still living in West Michigan, collecting pensions.

But, because of the statute of limitations, survivors have no legal recourse.

The office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is investigating allegations of priest abuse and cover-ups dating back decades at the state’s seven Catholic dioceses. Her office said it expects to file criminal charges soon.

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