RI toughens mandatory reporting law; Victims respond
For immediate release: Friday, July 8, 2016
We applaud the brave and compassionate Rhode Island abuse victims and children’s advocates who have won reforms in the state’s mandatory reporting law. We hope state lawmakers will now take a crucial next step and relax or repeal Rhode Island’s archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations, the single biggest obstacle that prevents child sex abuse victims from protecting kids and exposing cover ups.
Because they’re driven by overwhelming, deeply-rooted compulsions that are very hard to control, few child molesters are deterred by threat of penalty. Their colleagues and supervisors, however, can be deterred from acting timidly, selfishly and irresponsibly, but only if authorities clarify and use mandatory reporting laws and push for severe sentences for those who violate those laws. That’s why yesterday’s progress is so important – it will help stop predators after their second or third victim, not their 22nd or 33rd victim.
Sometimes, however, those who commit and conceal sexual violence against kids can’t be charged or convicted in court. Usually, the reason is excessively tight criminal and civil statutes of limitations. We hope Rhode Island legislators will now move to reform these arbitrary deadlines that give wrongdoers incentives to intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, destroy evidence and even flee the country.
No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in schools, churches or other institutions – especially private ones - to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Governor Signs Bill Closing 'St. George's Loophole'
By ELISABETH HARRISON • 20 HOURS AGO
Governor Gina Raimondo has signed a bill requiring schools to contact child welfare authorities when they suspect sexual abuse of their employees. The bill also requires the state's child welfare office to investigate allegations of abuse in schools.
The bill was inspired by the investigation of St. George's School, an elite boarding school on Aquidneck Island, where dozens of former students have alleged abuse by staff and fellow students.
The school has apologized and offered to . . .
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.