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Maryland bishops: End criminal statute of limitations for interfering with abuse reporting

The Maryland bishops are supporting a bill that would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for those that prevent or interfere with the reporting of child sexual abuse.

“I think it is a good, commonsense approach to the issue,” said Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the Maryland bishops. “There are lots of situations where someone could interfere with that reporting, and hopefully this would be a deterrent.”

Kraska said that State Sen. Michael Hough, the bill’s lead sponsor who represents parts of Frederick and Carroll counties, approached the MCC for its support.

“This made sense as the next logical step,” Kraska said, noting that Maryland already has no criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse.

Intentionally preventing or interfering with the reporting of suspected child sexual abuse is a misdemeanor in the state; penalties include a fine not to exceed $10,000 and imprisonment not to exceed five years, or both.

The bill passed a third reading in the State Senate Feb. 27 and awaits a first reading in the House Judiciary Committee.

Also supporting the bill are Advocates for Children and Youth and the Montgomery County Board of Education.