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Most priests can't be prosecuted, even if they are named in the sex abuse report. Here's why

Massachusetts changed their statute of limitations laws following a similar report released in that state.

DENVER — The statute of limitations in Colorado dealing with sex abuse and rape is around 10 years, in most cases. That means all but one of the cases mentioned in detail in the Attorney General's sexual abuse report cannot be prosecuted. 

RELATED: Report names 43 Colorado Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing at least 166 children since 1950

Only when DNA is involved can cases of sexual abuse be prosecuted more than 10 years later.

"If you have not brought those charges by that time, it's a complete bar in the prosecution of a case," said Mitch Morrissey, a former Denver district attorney who now prosecutes cold cases. "I wouldn't be surprised on the tale of this report that there isn't some movement in the legislature to change the Colorado statute of limitations."

In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations was changed following reports of rampant sexual abuse in the Catholic church. The new law gives child victims of sexual abuse more than 30 years to sue their accusers.  

For priests named in the report like Father Leo Bonfadini, police will likely never investigate the cases. 

"It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen. I did not rape a 17-year-old boy," Bonfadini said. "I think I made a lot of mistakes that had impacts. I mean, I’m not a perfect man. I don’t think I’ve made that kind of mistake."

Bonfadini said he knows his accuser and complied with the churches' investigation, which was inconclusive. The church never reported the accusation to police. 

RELATED: Priest abuse report: Denver Archdiocese was 'frequently dishonest' to protect itself

Bonfadini is accused of raping a 17-year-old boy in the rectory of his church in Pueblo in 1979. He maintains he was not even at the church that year and is an innocent man. Still, the Attorney General's report finds no exculpatory evidence clearing Bonfadini.

"There was a series of meetings of course, as there is every reason to be, about whether or not they would remove me from the parish or not. The decision was not to," Bonfadini said. "I love being a priest. Love it. It is the most beautiful profession one could imagine having."

Bonfadini said he believes God knows everything. He said he has a clear conscience and does not worry about the day he will stand in front of the ultimate judge. 

Still, he said he wants his accuser to clear his name. 

"Sometimes I get really sad and angry. Other times I choose not to live that way," he said. "I would just ask him to tell the truth."

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