Justice comes in fits and starts

It feels like justice for child sex abuse comes in waves. There will be a string of stunningly negative court decisions over days and then there’s a sudden reversal, and a series of positive legal developments will happen.

In Canada, for instance, a judge recently ruled that two sisters from Ontario must pay their uncle $125,000 in libel damages for allegedly accusing him - falsely - of sexually assaulting them when they were children.


And in Montana, a judge recently gave a child molesting teacher a depressingly light sentence, claiming that his 14-year-old victim is “older than her chronological age” and “as much control of the situation” as the teacher. 


But one way I stay motivated is by trying – sometimes desperately – to focus on the positive. And if you look hard, you can always find encouraging cases and signs and trends in courtrooms:

--Notorious KC predator priest Shawn Ratigan got the max – 50 years in prison with no possibility of parole. Ratigan both molested girls and created child porn using photos of them that he surreptitiously took. Now, however, he will never, ever be able to hurt a child again.


--In 2007, hundreds of California clergy sex abuse victims insisted that long-secret church files about predators and enablers be made public. Despite six years of relentless legal wrangling by Catholic officials, those records are finally surfacing. (Many of those predators also worked in other states, so we’re doing all we can to make sure that families in Kansas City KS, St. Louis MO, Detroit MI, San Antonio TX, Hartford CT and elsewhere are told and warned about them).


--St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson will be deposed tomorrow in a very troubling recent child sex case involving Fr. Joseph Jiang. (It’s rare that a bishop is deposed in a criminal case.) Presumably, Carlson will be asked why he allegedly called the teenage girl’s mom last year asking for her to give him a $20,000 check that the priest let for the victim’s parents (after he reportedly admitted to them that he molested their daughter).


Martin Luther King famously said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." He might have added “slowly bends toward justice.” But it does indeed bend. And I’m grateful to each and every victim, witness and whistleblower – in civil or criminal cases – that helps it bend.

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