Thursday, February 24, 2011

Do more
Do more: Restore language so that grossly negligent institutions can be sued
February 25, 2011

Bill 33 would eliminate the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. Bill 34 would open a two-year window in which the survivors of child sex abuse could file civil claims against the perpetrators, even if the statute of limitations has passed.
Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz said the bills were needed because the system was flawed; it made those who committed sexual abuse -- not the victims of abuse -- the priority.
Cruz noted that for most survivors of child sexual abuse, it takes many years before they are able to come forward with what happened to them. For many, that means the statute of limitations on the crime has expired and they are left without legal recourse.
Marci A. Hamilton specializes in church-state relations and constitutional law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. She submitted written testimony on Bill 34 that states it's "a sunshine law for children" that would better protect Guam's children.
"It would also bring delayed, but still welcome, justice to these victims," Hamilton wrote.
Unfortunately, senators watered down the language in Bill 34. Before voting on the measure, they removed a provision that would have allowed victims of child sexual abuse to also file civil actions against institutions found to be grossly negligent.
The removal of that language limits the ability of those who were sexually abused as children. All people and institutions who failed in their duty to adequately protect these children should be accountable for that failure. It shouldn't matter it was a school, day care or church -- if an institution was grossly negligent and by that negligence allowed a child to be abused sexually, it should be held responsible.
The passage of Bills 33 and 34 will give more protection and justice to the victims of child sex abuse. But not as much as they could have. Senators should amend Bill 34 to replace the removed language regarding institutions

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