For immediate release: Monday, May 2, 2016
South Dakota ranks at or near the bottom of the pack when it comes to reforming archaic, predator-friendly laws that make it tougher to expose, punish and deter child sex crimes and cover ups, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislators.
In the wake of the Denny Hastert, Bill Cosby and Jerry Sandusky scandals and the on-going Catholic abuse crisis, most lawmakers are relaxing or repealing arbitrary and tight deadlines that block child sex victims from exposing those who commit and conceal heinous violence against kids.
Tragically, as best we can tell, South Dakota’s is the only legislature in the US that moved in the opposite direction.
Because of outdated and unrealistic statutes of limitations, most adults who commit or conceal child sex crimes escape detection. The “window” the best, cheapest, quickest and safest way to safeguard kids and prevent crimes by exposing predators. Only a handful of states (California, Delaware, Hawaii, Georgia and Minnesota) have adopted measures like this, which gives almost anyone who was abused as a child by anyone the chance to file a civil suit no matter when the alleged crimes took place. (Bills like this are pending in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.) Victims and their advocates applaud the law, saying it protects kids by making public the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesters, most of who still walk free and work or live among unsuspecting families, neighbors and co-workers.
Last week the Illinois attorney general called for ending statutes of limitations in case of sexual violence. Later this month, a special three year civil ‘window’ in Minnesota that lets anyone victimized in childhood sue anyone who perpetrated or enabled child sex crimes will come to an end.
No matter what lawmakers 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 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