The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Statement Regarding Legislative Reform Efforts
January 11, 2006
Statement by Claudia Vercellotti,
Toledo Director of SNAP
1) ABOUT BISHOP GUMBLETON
We can't adequately express our admiration for Bishop Gumbleton's courage today. His bravery will doubtlessly inspire and enable other clergy who have been molested by clergy to come forward and get the help they need.
No matter how much public attention this terrible scandal attracts, for each new victim who speaks up, it's always a traumatic but eventually healing experience.
If you have been hurt by a religious figure, please understand that breaking your silence is the first step toward recovery.
Gradual cracks in the secretive clerical sex abuse culture are healthy and encouraging.
Here's an intelligent man who loves the church. When he says this legislation will help the church, we should listen to him.
2) ABOUT LEGISLATIVE REFORM
Reforming the dangerously restrictive and archaic statute of limitations is the single most effective step we can take to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
History, psychology and common sense indicate that the one year civil "window" helps prevent future abuse in at least four ways:
1) Prevention through exposing predators.
The "window" enables victims to publicly expose the predators who hurt them, through the open, impartial, time-tested American judicial system, so that parents, neighbors and employers will know about potentially dangerous men.
2) Prevention through exposing enablers.
Through the balanced judicial process - depositions, discovery, interrogatories and sworn testimony - anyone who ignored a sex crime, shielded a molester, destroyed a document or deceived a victim"s family may also be exposed.
Ohio families deserve to know whether their pastor or day care center director or athletic association harbored a sex offender, stonewalled a prosecutor, or lied to a parent.
Ohio citizens deserve to know whether a diocese or a summer camp director knowingly hired child molesters.
3) Deterrence through court disclosures.
Without the "window," a supervisor who"s been lax about child safety has no incentive to change bad habits or work harder.
With the "window decision-makers will know that if they insensitively shun a victim or recklessly endanger a child, they may be exposed in court and face consequences for having done so.
4) Deterrence through financial consequences.
Passage of the "window" will prod defense lawyers, public relations staff and others to beef up child sex abuse prevention and education.
Concerned employees will start asking their supervisors "Do we do background checks on everyone here?" and "Are we ready for a potential lawsuit?"
Smart organizations will start or expand efforts to train adults about reporting abuse and teach kids about "safe touch," knowing that
- victims are less inclined to sue an institution that seems to take abuse seriously,
- judges and juries are more lenient with institutions that are already addressing the problem which led to a lawsuit.
This "window" makes Ohio kids safer, now and in the future.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests