Connecticut Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations

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Statute of Limitations

A bill currently working it’s way through the Connecticut Legislature would remove the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases. On the surface that sounds like a reasonable thing to do; until, that is, you consider the very possible effect of that legislation if it is passed.

Currently, under Connecticut law, a person who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an adult can file a lawsuit against the person or institution responsible for that abuse until his/her 48th birthday. If the current limitation of “30 years past the person’s 18th birthday” is removed, anyone at any age can claim he/she was abused at any time in the past and file a lawsuit asking for compensation.

The quandary is, as this CNN Justice article points out: Connecticut bishops fight sex abuse bill: “the bill would allow claims that are 70 years or older, in which key individuals are deceased, memories have been faded, and documents and other evidence have been lost.”

Even now, with the current Statute of Limitations, the situation is a virtual Disneyland for trial lawyers who will press for “a settlement”, even in cases where there is little or no evidence — and organizations and institutions, even if they are totally innocent of the charges, will most often pay those settlements rather than spend years in court and millions in lawyers fees defending themselves. If the Statute of Limitations was lifted, the number of law suits would no doubt multiply; and most of the new law suits would probably be filed by people who have no legitimate claim to compensation, people who just want to take advantage of an unfortunate situation.

Over the past weekend, the Connecticut Catholic Bishops posted a letter on their website and distributed it to every Catholic Church in the state. The letter makes their case that “The legislation would undermine the mission of the Catholic Church in Connecticut, threatening our parishes, our schools, and our Catholic Charities.” All Connecticut Catholics are being urged to contact their representatives and oppose this bill (H.B. 5473).

The Catholic church has, of course, the most to loose because they have made themselves the biggest target in the child-sex abuse arena by their inability to keep their house in order; but they are correct on this one.

In my opinion even that “30 years past the age of 18” is, at least in the majority of cases, far too permissive. At some point after any incident, reality tends to get skewed and many false memories and mental exaggerations will take the place of accurate memory. A 2007 Science Daily report suggests that while “children’s memory of long-ago events may be more accurate than previously thought” there is also a risk that “children’s memories have been contaminated by false information.” As years are added to the process, it will be even more unlikely that original memories are untainted.

Links:

CNN Justice: Connecticut bishops fight sex abuse bill

Connecticut Catholic Conference: Connecticut Bishop’s Statement on H.B. 5473

Science Daily: Children’s Memory Of Long-Ago Events May Be More Accurate Than Previously Thought

Rescuing The Children

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Major kudos go to the Federal Agents and members of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children for their major success on Operation Cross Country. In just the past three days, almost 1,600 FBI agents and police officers have arrested 700 people who operated and patronized child sex rings in 36 cities around the country. Fifty-two children were rescued from their situations (the youngest 10 y/o) where they were either forced or otherwise convinced to provide for the sexual needs of the perverts who frequented the houses, buildings and rooms where they were kept virtual prisoners.

Operation Cross Country is part of a larger initiative called the Innocence Lost National Initiative which has been saving kids from child prostitution since 2003. So far Innocence Lost has rescued 900 children from prostitution and has sent 510 of the operators and front-line pimps to jail.

There are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of children still engaged in prostitution here in the United States. Some have been kidnapped and forced into prostitution but the majority of them are runaways who were seduced into the child sex trade by promises of food, shelter, clothes and protection.

According to an article in the UK Guardian:

“Child welfare groups estimate that around 2 million children a year run away from home in the US, and that many of them are lured into prostitution or pornography to survive.

The justice department says there is an “epidemic” of commercial sex activity among children living on the streets. It says more than half of street girls are engaged in prostitution, many of them beginning between 12 and 14 years old.

“Pimp-controlled commercial sexual exploitation of children is linked to escort and massage services, private dancing, drinking and photographic clubs, major sporting and recreational events, major cultural events, conventions, and tourist destinations,” the department says.

“About one-fifth of these children become entangled in nationally organised crime networks and are trafficked nationally. They are transported around the United States by a variety of means: cars, buses, vans, trucks or planes, and are often provided counterfeit identification to use in the event of arrest.”

The U.S Department of Justice confirms this in their Child Prostitution information page; an excerpt:

“The majority of American victims of commercial sexual exploitation tend to be runaway or thrown away youth who live on the streets who become victims of prostitution. These children generally come from homes where they have been abused, or from families that have abandoned them, and often become involved in prostitution as a way to support themselves financially or to get the things they want or need.

Other young people are recruited into prostitution through forced abduction, pressure from parents, or through deceptive agreements between parents and traffickers. Once these children become involved in prostitution they are often forced to travel far from their homes and as a result are isolated from their friends and family. Few children in this situation are able to develop new relationships with peers or adults other than the person who is victimizing them.

Sadly, of the 700 people who were arrested in this latest sweep, only a minority of them will, in the end, be incarcerated. Many of the rescued children will refuse to testify against the men and women who functioned as their handlers because of pressure from their families or because they feel attached to them in a Stockholm Syndrome type of effect. Others will find legal loopholes or lenient judges and will be back out on the street plying their trade in just a short time. Our justice system is, on the whole, fair — even to those who don’t deserve a fair justice system; and it’s even more “fair” to those who can afford the best lawyers.

News Links:

L.A. Times: 52 children rescued in nationwide sex-trafficking raids

UK Guardian: 700 arrests across country as FBI rescues children from sex trade

Also of interest:

The Child Abuse Monument Project

The Catholic Paradox

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An excerpt from a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer dated today (5/21/09):

“LONDON – For more than a half century, thousands of children in church-run orphanages and reform schools in Ireland were severely abused by priests and nuns, a government commission said yesterday in the first official accounting of a scandal that has wrenched the deeply Roman Catholic nation.

The 2,600-page report, which capped a nine-year investigation, said rape and sexual abuse were “endemic” in boys’ institutions funded by the state but run by the church. “A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys,” it said.

In general, the commission found, the severe physical and sexual abuse that occurred in boys’ schools was absent in girls’ schools. It said “emotional abuse,” including humiliation and denigration, was common in institutions for girls.”

It sickens me and has for many years!

I’ve been hearing about abusive “brothers”, “sisters”, priests and nuns from friends who attended Catholic schools since I was a very young boy (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth — LOL!). I’m sure we all have and I’m sure many of you suffered under the belt, hand or stick of some overzealous (My word for them is ‘sadistic’) priest or nun.

“Why are they like that?” I asked my young friends occasionally. Either “I don’t know!” or “They’re just mean!” was the usual reply.

As we got older, however, it became more clear. These people (Catholic clergy) who are supposed to be representatives of God, who are supposed to symbolize God’s teaching have been placed in a position (by men, not by God) that God’s creations were never meant to be in — they have chosen a chaste existence, denied any normal physical contact with the opposite sex and, in fact, convinced that they would be turning their backs on God for even considering it.

Many (if not most) can’t handle this lifestyle and the result of that is all too clear in reports of their physical and sexual abuse of the innocent. The innocent who they know will grow up and be able to enjoy the ‘pleasures of the flesh’ that they have chosen to deny — and the innocent are punished for this.

Notes to readers:

  • The above is theory, based on a logical evaluation of fact, but theory nonetheless.
  • I am not a religious person now but was brought up in a religious but other than Catholic environment.
  • I have no intention of insulting Catholics, the Catholic laity or the clergy — but realize I probably have insulted quite a few. Sorry!
  • My theory is NOT, however, based on religion — it is based on human nature.)

News Links:

Associated Press (at Yahoo): Thousands beaten, raped in Irish reform schools

UK Guardian: Irish Catholic church child abuse: ‘A cruel and wicked system’

Blog Links:

Honest Reporting: Ex-nun’s confessions set to rock Kerala Church

Business News Blog: Scarred for life

My other homes for my posts are: The Blogger News Network — it’s real news from real people and Opinion Forum A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life.