Tomorrow, a California legislative panel will vote on SB 131, a measure that would make it easier for child sex abuse victims to expose child molesters in court.
Leading the charge against the measure: California’s Catholic bishops.
The highest ranking prelate in the state, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, claims that the bill
--“fails to protect all victims of childhood sexual abuse” (So if a bill doesn’t protect EVERYONE or fix EVERYTHING, it should be defeated?)
--“discriminates against Catholic schools” (Really? The bill doesn’t mention Catholic schools.)
--“discriminates against other private employers” (No, the bill focuses on private employers because that’s where history and common sense tell us abuse is more apt to be covered up. That’s not “discrimination,” that’s smart public policy.)
--“puts the Church’s social services and educational mission at risk” (Really? That’s what virtually every bishop says every time anyone proposes reforming the archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly statute of limitations.)
After of our annual conference (which was, by the way, a smashing success), I came home to a short stack of unread New York Times. Two stories in last Saturday's edition struck me.
One featured this headline: "France Orders Strauss-Kahn to Stand Trial." The one-time potential presidential candidate faces "charges linked to his involvement in a prostitution ring prosecutors say was operating in France and in the United States." Along with "a small group of French businessmen and police officials," Strauss-Kahn stands accused of pimping, or “aggravated procurement in a group,” a charge that "carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of 1.5 million euros," about $2 million.
It boggles my mind, but it's clear that some value the reputations of a few adults over the safety of many kids. This includes many who oppose reforming the child predator's best pal - the statute of limitations.
UCLA professor Stephen Bainbridge seems to be one such misguided individual. But instead of trotting out the usual stale arguments, Bainbridge has come up with a few new, and bizarre claims about why SOL is allegedly so terrible and why, he opposes California's SB 131, a measure we support.
To many, the headlines sound wonderful. To me, they’re heartbreaking:
“Pope Tightens Rules on Child Sex Abuse”
“Vatican broadens child abuse crimes in legal reform”
“Pope widens criminal punishment for child abuse in Vatican”
“Pope issues first penal laws for Vatican, criminalizes leaks of Vatican info, child sex abuse”
How can this be bad news?
1) According to BishopAccountability.org, there are 66 proven, admitted, and credibly accused predators within the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
(This number does not include the perhaps dozens of relative order predators who have lived or worked--or still live or work--in the Milwaukee Archdiocese now.)
Two words of advice to anyone who might feel down about the news about our International Criminal Court complaint: “Chin up.”
This is a bump in the road. It’s far, far, far from the end of the road.
The ICC isn’t like US courts. We can, have and will go back to the ICC, submitting more and more proof, for however long it takes. At any point, the prosecutor can say “Now, we’re opening an investigation.” We are still very confident that, at some point, this will happen.
An Ohio jury has awarded damages to Christa Dias, an unwed teacher who was fired from her Catholic school job after becoming pregnant through artificial insemination.
Read the full story
In SNAP, we take no positions on church-related controversies other than clergy sex crimes and cover ups. So we have no stance or view or statement on this court ruling.
Usually, when Catholic officials try to deny child sex abuse victims their day in court, I moan or cry or shake my head in dismay. But a sentence in a new National Catholic Register article on statute of limitations reform had the opposite effect on me. It made me laugh out loud.
Here’s the background: Gradually, more lawmakers are proposing civil “window” laws that temporarily suspend the civil statute on child sex crimes.
The laws enable child sex abuse victims to protect kids, stop predators, expose wrongdoing, and deter cover ups by seeking justice in court.
We’re used to bishops backpedalling on clergy sex crimes. It’s worrisome, however, when newspapers backpedal on those crimes.
Lately, editors at two big city dailies have made unsettling decision in covering clergy sex cases.
For as long as I can remember (and I’ve been involved in this almost 25 years), virtually every news outlet has named clerics who are accused in civil lawsuits of assaulting kids. Ditto with other defendants who are high profile: coaches, teachers, doctors, politicians and the like. It’s a nearly universal practice and rarely even questioned (except sometimes by friends and relatives of the accused).
Over the past week, here’s a partial list of states where Catholic officials have said "no comment" about clergy sex abuse lawsuits and allegations: Missouri, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Illinois.