Efforts Against Abuse




Testimony in support of Ohio legislation to extend the civil statutes of limitation

Senate Bill 17
Senator Bob Spada

By: Barbara A. Blaine, President
SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

I am here to ask that you pass legislation to extend the civil statutes of limitation for victims of child sexual abuse and to create a window to allow for those who previously couldn't bring a claim to have their day in court.

You know that you hold the authority to allow children to be protected and to help victims heal. You know that you are the citizens of Ohio who create laws and you are aware that both the Ohio and the Federal Constitutions permit a retroactive application of the law.

We ask that you do not follow the plan outlined that gives power and responsibility to the Attorney General to represent victim's interest but rather that you allow the tried and successful judicial system of Ohio to hear these cases.

Here is what we do know about the civil procedures in the Attorney General's office regarding civil rights cases. The Attorney General's office hears complaints and then prosecutes. The percentage of claims that actually get prosecuted is 5%. How could anyone expect that we, the victims of child sex abuse, will have trust that we will experience justice in this yet-to-be-determined governmental agency, with a horrible track record of helping victims of civil rights abuses. How can anyone expect that justice will come any time soon. And in the mean time, the clock keeps ticking, our abusers' identities remain secret and they continue posing risks to children.

Can I or anyone claim that the proposal won't work? No. Of course not. But I question and ask you to join in questioning why we would go to such lengths. What is the purpose? Isn't it merely a plot to keep victims out of the courts, to keep church leaders terrible actions hidden, to keep victims from receiving justice?

Please recognize that this plan is asking victims who have already had our trust violated on so many levels to now trust an overburdened government agency to create an entirely new bureaucracy. Let's be realistic. Even if it did work, it will take years to put in place, to design the system, to test it, to hire and train the workers, to advertise and spread the word about the plan.

What about the cost? Who will pay? Ohio's taxpayers? Sending the responsibility to the Attorney General's office will cost the taxpayers money and Ohio cannot afford this. It is untested and no doubt, those being accused will fight the constitutionality of the proceedings. They will challenge and most likely be successful on due-process protections. They will hire expensive attorneys to fight these cases who have years of experience and they will create an unbalanced playing field as they oppose the attorneys in the Attorney General's office who have no experience in this area, who will be creating the rules and the game as they go along.

Ohio already has a judicial system in place and it is afforded to every American who experiences injustice. You previously heard that we as victims are merely asking you to give us more time. We are not asking that you lessen the burden of proof that we must achieve to be successful. We are not asking that you relax the rules of evidence. You know that the statutes of limitation that church leaders rely on are archaic and arbitrary procedural guidelines. As child victims who were raped and sodomized by trusted church leaders we could not come forward earlier. It has taken us until we are well into adulthood for us to be able to speak about and report those horrors. We are merely asking here for the chance to get out day in court. We don't believe there is anything wrong with how the system works. The only problem is the lack of recognition that child victims need more time.

Isn't it interesting that proponents of the Anti-Terror legislation are proposing a 20 year statute of limitations? Please notice that victims of Terrorism Acts will most likely be aware that they are victims of Terrorism almost immediately following the act. Yet children who are sexually assaulted are not aware that they are victims. It takes us 20 or 30 years to come to that awareness.

You have already heard testimony regarding the debilitating and devastating effects the abuse has had on our lives.

Let's call a spade a spade. The reality is that this plan is nothing more than one more scheme by Catholic Church leaders to shirk their responsibility. This will be one more attempt to keep the truths hidden regarding the dirty secrets of church leaders.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests