Friday, December 10, 2010

Relaxing limits
N.J. Senate to consider relaxing limits on sex abuse lawsuits; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell)

First, I want to thank the sponsors of this legislation and the brave men and women who were abused as kids who are here today to help prevent future child sex crimes and expose current and former child sex crimes.

Our message today, to citizens and Catholics, is simple: Don’t believe the hype, spin, threats and self-serving rhetoric of a couple of bishops. Protect children, not predators. Deter deceit, don’t reward deceit. Call your lawmakers and tell them that vulnerable kids need protection. Shrewd pedophiles and corrupt supervisors do not.

This bill will help safeguard kids from predators in three key ways. First, it will help publicly expose child molesters, through the time-tested, proven, open justice system. Second, it will help publicly expose irresponsible supervisors who ignored or concealed child sex crimes. And third, it will help deter future recklessness, deceit and callousness by some employers, again, using the time-tested, proven, open justice system.

In the ideal world, every child molester would be locked up. But that isn’t happening and can’t. Many in law enforcement estimate that 80% of those who sexually assault kids are never convicted and imprisoned. That means there are hundreds of dangerous child predators in every state who are molesting kids today.

The sad and simple truth is that we don’t have and may never have adequate police, prosecutors and prisons to charge, convicted and jail these predators. So the next best approach is to publicly expose them, so parents, neighbors, relatives, co-workers and employers know of their crimes.

Many will claim victims here already have more time than in some other states. Even if that's true, that's not the standard to use. The question is "Are there child molesters in New Jersey who still live and work around unsuspecting families and vulnerable kids?" The answer, obviously, is yes.

Some will claim the law is anti-Catholic. That's silly. Institutions that deliberately or recklessly put kids in harm's way could face consequences for their irresponsible misdeeds - whether they are secular or religious, public or private. As a society, we're just saying that Baptist officials and government officials and for-profit day care centers all have to take children's safety carefully.

We in SNAP believe there should be no statute of limitations on child rape. Any such statute just gives predators and their enablers the incentive, and the time, to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, fabricate alibis and escape overseas. No child rapist or his allies should get to exploit an arbitrary deadline, escape detection, and assault others.

Kids depend on adults to keep them safe. And citizens depend on officials to expose and punish wrong-doers. Let’s hope New Jersey lawmakers remember this.

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