The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

Statement Regarding Legislation to end Statute of Limitations in MA

February 17, 2005

For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP Founder and President (312) 399 4747 cell
Mark Serrano of Leasburg VA, SNAP Board Member (703) 727 4940 cell
Mary Grant of Long Beach CA, SNAP Board Member (626) 419 2930
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP Board Member (414) 429 7259 cell, (414) 963 8617

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago
Founder and President of SNAP

We applaud and support this effort, and are firmly convinced that reforming the archaic, rigid and dangerously restrictive statute of limitations is the single most cost-effective prevention step possible. It's real progress when sex crimes are handled by independent law enforcement professionals, instead of biased, untrained church officials. It's real progress when abuse victims can seek justice in the open, time-tested American court system, instead of in the secretive, untested internal church proceedings.

Prevention is the principal reason lawmakers should ease these outdated and dangerous time limits that prevents childhood sexual abuse victims from seeking justice. It will stop future abuse, by virtually forcing those who oversee children to work harder to protect those children.

Extending or eliminating the statute of limitations is the cheapest law enforcement money can buy. To catch more child molesters, we can substantially beef up the budgets of police and prosecutors. Or we can make a simple legislative reform, open the courthouse doors, and let victims expose and remove perpetrators through peaceful, legal means.

Conservatives ought to support such legislation because it’s a low cost way to prove you’re tough on crime. It requires no government regulations, but rather provides “incentives” for decision-makers to do the right thing. Liberals ought to support such legislation because it gives equal access to our justice system, regardless of when one was victimized.

Let’s be honest. The threat of traffic tickets is required to prod motorists to drive more safely. And the threat of litigation is required to prod organizations to worker harder at protecting kids.

As abuse victims often point out, there is no “statute of limitations” on the suffering caused by sexual molestation the pain is pervasive and on-going, even despite years of therapy. 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.

Some lawmakers express concern for the financial well-being of institutions and organizations that could face greater scrutiny. That concern is admirable. However, there is no absolutely no evidence whatsoever to suggest that any group will suffer real financial damage as a result of this legislation. To raise this issue at this juncture is terribly premature and in fact misleading.

Let those who have been wounded have at least a chance at having our day in court NOW, not at some distant point in the future. And let those who employ and supervise molesters be warned that they must become more diligent and proactive NOW, not at some distant point in the future.

We all know that public attention is fleeting. Now, there is widespread concern about sexual abuse. Next year, despite good intentions to the contrary, that concern may well be gone or greatly diminished. Therefore, the chance to take decisive and brave steps to genuinely make boys and girls safer is NOW. Our legislators should not squander this chance.

Five or ten years from now, the scandal will have shifted, from abusive clerics to abusive coaches, or teachers, or summer camp staff or counselors. When that happens, our lawmakers should be able to look themselves in the mirror and realize that in 2003, their wisdom and courage made it possible to stop some molesters, detect and remove other molesters, and thereby allow some innocent kids to escape the life-altering harm that was done to us.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests