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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

Ohio’s Lawmakers Allow Clerical Predators Pass

Offering “Hollow, Empty Shell” Lawmakers Pretend To Be Tough On Sexual Predators

Tough Child Protection Bill From Senate Weakened In House Gives Church A Break

March 29, 2006

Yesterday Ohio’s Lawmakers voted in the House Judiciary Committee to “gut” the Senate Bill designed to protect Ohio’s children and hold abusers and those who harbor them accountable.

The new version offers merely empty promises to victims and won’t protect Ohio’s children. In fact, it guarantees that church officials who have harbored and shielded sexual predators will get to keep their secrets hidden.

Lawmakers claim victims will get to expose their predators but the system voted on yesterday is so flawed predators will get off.

Instead of allowing victims the opportunity to use the time-tested, neutral American Judicial System they will have to try to bring their claim in a sham system which all-but guarantees the predators will get off, the truth will remain hidden and victims will receive no justice.

Ohio’s catholic church leaders brokered a “last-minute” “half-baked” scheme with House leaders ensuring that dirty secrets of cover-up and shielding priests who are criminal sexual predators who raped and sodomized innocent children for decades will stay secret.

In spite of over 30 hours of testimony and dozens of work-group meetings with input from constitutional, mental health, education and law-enforcement experts House leaders ignored a year’s worth of efforts. Instead they worked into the night drafting a sham bill to appear to be tough on child molesters but in reality lets them off.

While claiming to protect children lawmakers instead are protecting clerical child molesters and those who covered-up for them. The travesty of justice in the process and the insult to the trusting citizens who have tirelessly worked with lawmakers is shocking.

Who will bring the claims to fight for the victims?

Answer: Unclear.

The bill says it might be brought by a county prosecutor, or maybe the attorney general or still maybe the victim’s themselves. Therefore it is likely that no one will bring these claims.

Who will pay for this?

Answer: Unclear.

The bill offers no clarity as to who pays. It could be assumed that lawmakers intend for predators to pay but it is safe to assume they don’t have the resources. No mention of whether payment will come from county, or state coffers. Further, Ohio’s lawmakers have not budgeted to pay for this.

When will action be taken?

Answer: Unclear.

While the bill says that county prosecutors may bring the action within 45 days and the attorney general may bring the action in 90 days if the prosecutor doesn’t do so there is no indication that either must bring the action.

Who will establish the civil registry?

Answer: Unclear

While the bill indicates that the attorney general will do so, Jim Petro, Ohio’s Attorney General says he opposes this measure. Therefore, it is doubtful he will set up the registry and may fight having to do so.

When will civil registry be established?

Answer: Unclear

With no deadline to set up the registry it if safe to assume it won’t be established.

If victims are successful in the declaratory judgment hearing will the predator be listed on the civil registry?

Answer: No

The predator’s name may never go on the civil registry. The sham process allows the judge to determine that the predators’ name won’t have to go on the registry even if the court rules that the predator did abuse the victim.

How long will predators names remain on civil registry?

Answer: Unclear

The predators name may never go on the registry but may stay on it for only 6 years. Even though all statistics indicate that sexual predators usually abuse throughout their entire life time the warning may last for a short time.

Is There Any Incentive For Prosecutors or Attorney General To Bring Claims? Answer: No

Is there Any Punishment for Prosecutors or Attorney General When They Fail To Bring Claim? Answer: No

Is there funding allocated to pay for the civil registry?

Answer: No

Lawmakers have failed to add this to the budget thereby guaranteeing that the civil registry won’t be established.

Will the civil registry and declaratory judgment process deter future abuse?

Answer: No

In fact, those who covered-up for and harbored child sexual predators will face no consequences. There is no incentive for employers to do background checks to screen potential employers, or train current employees, or teach children safety measures. Therefore it unlikely any changes will occur.

Will the declaratory judgment process bring healing and justice to victims?

Answer: No

The playing field will not be level. Predators, especially those harbored by church leaders, will have experienced, top-notch attorneys from most expensive law firms while victims may be represented by either no attorneys or those with little or no experience or training in this field. This all-but assures that the predators will get off again.

The Senate version toughens sanctions for clergy who fail to report while the House version offers a loophole allowing that no clergy will have to report because of an ill-defined “sacred trust.”

The Senate version of the bill ensured:

Deterrence for future bad behavior
Consequences for those who covered-up and harbored child abusers
No distinction if predator is a priest or cleric
90% of predators who don’t get prosecuted could still get exposed
Kids in Ohio would be safer
Doors of justice would be opened for victims
Evil doers would be punished

The House version of the bill offers:

· Empty promises

· No deterrence for future bad behavior

· No consequences for those who covered-up and harbored child abusers

· Certainty that church officials get to keep their dirty secrets hidden

· Almost all sexual predators will never get exposed

· Child molesters a pass so they may continue to abuse with little fear of being caught

· Even if caught child molesters will face little if any consequences

· Kids in Ohio will still be at risk of abuse by dozens, even hundreds of sexual predators who won’t be exposed

Contact:

Barbara Blaine of Chicago, (abused as a child in Toledo) SNAP President (312) 399-4747 cell

Claudia Vercellotti of Toledo, SNAP Toledo Leader, 419 345 9291

Susan Vidd of Cleveland, SNAP Cleveland Leader, 216 210 1243

Christy Miller of Cincinnati, SNAP Cincinnati Leader, 513 383 2198


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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