The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Sex Abuse Victims Oppose Ohio Mandatory Reporting Bill
Hearing On New Legislation Is Set For Wednesday
Support Group Instead Calls For Reforming Statute of Limitations
SNAP Feels Spadas Bill is Well Intention But Will Have Virtually No Impact
In an unusual move, a support group for clergy sex abuse victims is opposing a bill that would include clergy as mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. The current bill also extends the statute of limitations so narrowly as that it leaves out virtually all of the groups members.
Leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) are expecting to testify tomorrow before the Ohio legislation tomorrow that the proposed measure would largely amount to symbolism and may lead to premature complacency and impede real reform.
We know of maybe two priests or church employees anywhere who have ever been prosecuted under such laws, said SNAP founder and President Barbara Blaine of Chicago. She is a Toledo native. And the penalties are often pitifully weak.
Instead, they are pushing legislation to reform what they call Ohios arbitrary, archaic and dangerously restrictive statute of limitations.
Conservatives ought to support such legislation because its a low cost way to prove youre tough on crime. It requires no government regulations, but rather provides incentives for decision-makers to do the right thing, explained Blaine. Liberals ought to support such legislation because it gives equal access to our justice system, regardless of when one was victimized.
The threat of traffic tickets is required to prod many motorists to drive more safely. And the threat of litigation is required to prod churches and other organizations to worker harder at protecting kids, said Claudia Vercellotti of Toledo, SNAPs Northwestern Ohio Coordinator.
There is no statute of limitations on the suffering caused by sexual molestation the pain is pervasive, severe and on-going, even despite years of therapy, said Blaine, a social worker. There is likewise no statute of limitations on the molesters they usually continue victimizing children until they are caught and imprisoned or they die.
We therefore believe that there can be no statute of limitations on exposing and removing perpetrators from positions of trust and authority, and no statute of limitations on protecting children who are at risk, Blaine said.
Many legislators offer cosmetic, piecemeal stabs at protecting kids, when whats clearly needed are real, substantive reforms that will truly make kids safer, said Vercellotti. On paper, mandatory reporting proposals seem logical: Teachers, doctors, social workers and other professionals are required to report suspected child abuse. Why shouldnt priests and ministers be obligated to do likewise?
But in our view, mandatory reporting laws largely amount to symbolism, she said.
The mandatory reporting bill is sponsored by Sen. Robert Spada of North Royalton, Ohio.
If the current Bill is amended to include the extension of the statutes of limitation SNAP members will change their position on SB 17.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests