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An Extraordinary Hearing in Rhode Island

Last week, there was legislative hearing in Rhode Island to consider a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for civil suits involving sexual abuse. Katherine Gregg wrote a long story for the Providence Journal detailing the testimony of three compelling witnesses. Two of them had no recollection of the abuse until well into adulthood.

Ann Hagan Webb, who received payments for therapy from the Catholic Church, testified that Msgr. Anthony DeAngelis molested her between the ages of 5 and 12 but that she “totally repressed the memory of my abuse until I was 40 … when my children were about the age I was when it began.” Similarly, Dr. Herbert Brennan, who spoke for the first time about being abused in childhood, testified that “It was 30 years after the fact before my abuse found its way to my consciousness.”

These people were testifying for a law change that might help others in the future; it will do nothing for them. They will not be added to the archive on this site because it is unclear from this article whether there was other corroborating evidence. But the testimony was compelling and, of course, Webb had the tacit admission of the church that they owed her therapy costs (which they provided in exchange for a waiver against suing).

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