Survivors Call Upon Pennsylvania Lawmakers to Pass a Window for Justice in Pennsylvania
September 10, 2018
Prof. Marci A. Hamilton, CEO, CHILD USA, 215-353-8984, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alix Boren, Esq., Executive Director, CHILD USA, 215-539-1906, email@example.com
Michael McDonnell, SNAP, Philadelphia, 267-261-0578, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vinka Jackson, 470-464-0779, email@example.com
Jessica Howard, 904-314-8764, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Klein, 646-335-3385, email@example.com
Larry Nassar Survivors Join CHILD USA and SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) Hold Press Conference to Call Upon Pennsylvania Lawmakers to Pass a Window for Justice in Pennsylvania
601 S. Henderson Road,
King of Prussia, PA 19406
DATE: September 11, 2018
TIME: 11:30 a.m.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s grand jury report on sex abuse in six dioceses proved to Pennsylvanians that the victims of child sex abuse in the Commonwealth are severely deprived of justice. Nearly every one of the over 1,000 victims has no access to justice. The report renewed calls on Pennsylvania lawmakers to follow Delaware’s example by enacting a 2-year window so victims would have 2 years during which the civil statute of limitations would pose no defense to their valid claims of child sex abuse. The focus of the report is on the heinous and callous actions of Catholic bishops letting children be abused by serial child predators, but its recommendations to enact a window and to eliminate the criminal SOLs are needed for every survivor in the Commonwealth.
The time has come to expand the circle of survivors who are heard on Pennsylvania lawmaker’s unfair treatment of child sex abuse survivors. Until a window is passed, Pennsylvania lawmakers are responsible for hiding predators and shielding institutions that enable child sex abuse. Today, Jessica Howard and Sarah
Klein, two of Dr. Larry Nassar’s survivors, will join Prof. Marci Hamilton and SNAP leader Michael McDonnell to call on Pennsylvania lawmakers to choose the victims over the predators and to finally bring justice to the state. They will also be joined by priest survivor Shawn Magee and family survivor, psychologist, and author, Vinka Jackson, from Chile, who is working to get the statutes of limitations ended there as well.
Rhythmic gymnast Jessica Howard and gymnast Sarah Klein helped change the statutes of limitations for child sex abuse in Michigan. Howard is a three-time national champion rhythmic gymnast. She has appeared on CBS 60 Minutes and has testified before Congress on child sexual abuse legislation. Klein, an attorney and Pennsylvania resident, is a recipient of the ESPN Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Other survivors and advocates will make statements and hold signs, including Deborah and Michael McIlmail and Arthur Baselice, who each lost sons who had been abused by a priest and who were striving for justice.
“Delaware is the leader in the United States on justice for child sex abuse victims, according to CHLID USA’s study of child sex abuse statute of limitations legislation since 2002, published here. In contrast, Pennsylvania lawmakers’ denial of access to justice for child sex abuse victims is intolerable,” says Prof. Marci Hamilton, CEO and Academic Director of CHILD USA. “It is a fact that window legislation has revealed to the public hundreds of hidden child predators and shifted the cost of the abuse from the victims to the ones who caused it. It is fundamentally fair. The Delaware Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Delaware window as have many other courts. The Pennsylvania Senators opposing the window are hiding behind a bogus claim of unconstitutionality as they pander to the bishops’ lobbyists. At this point in history, deferring to the bishops on child sex abuse is like asking an arsonist to prevent forest fires. Whoever sides with them sides with the predators.”
Rhythmic gymnast and Nassar survivor Jessica Howard say, “The high powered enablers of Larry Nassar’s heinous, decades long sexual abuse at MSU attempted to hide behind Michigan’s antiquated statute of limitations law to escape justice. But that law was changed because brave survivors met with legislators, courageously told their stories and demanded change. I am honored to stand with my sister and brother survivors in Pennsylvania because they have a right to the same window to justice that will hold the predators who violated them to account and allow the victims to begin a process of recovery and relief from pain that only justice can bring.”
“The acid test of a legal system is its capacity to do justice. Justice for the countless survivors of sexual abuse who are now finally able to come forward and seek healing requires that statutes of limitations be changed. It is an unspeakable injustice to allow statutes of limitations to leave victims without the healing that only legal justice can provide,” says gymnast and Nassar survivor, Sarah Klein. “As a former competitive gymnast and the first known abuse survivor of Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar, our ‘army of survivors’ proved that we can overcome opposition and change laws, as we recently did in Michigan. We now call on our elected representatives in PA to fix the broken statues of limitations. Survivors deserve justice.”
“In 2010, the first law to reform the child sex abuse statutes in Chile was introduced, but it was moving slowly. With the revelations by Chilean survivors including Juan Carlos Cruz and James Hamilton in the American press, the issue became a bipartisan priority in Chile where thousands of victims have been blocked from justice. CHILD USA is leading the way globally to greater safety for children through child sex abuse statutes of limitations reform, and I am proud to stand with them,” according to Chilean psychologist and survivor Vinka Jackson.
Pennsylvania survivor of Fr. Thomas J. Smith, Shawn Magee declares that, “I am standing in solidarity with the survivors in the Attorney General’s grand jury report. We who were abused by priests had our childhoods stolen from us. Now we are demanding the justice we have been denied so that children will be protected in the future.”
Michael McDonnell, priest survivor and SNAP’s Philadelphia leader, says “Predators and the institutions shielding them have put the liability on victims far too long. We demand that this state's legislature follow the recommendations set forth in the latest grand jury report on sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy. Enact a twoyear retroactive window and eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abused children. Victims and survivors deserve justice now!”
About CHILD USA
CHILD USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located at the University of Pennsylvania dedicated to ending child abuse and neglect through research-based public policy advocacy. CHILD USA is the nation’s leading organization that tracks and advocates for access to justice for child sex abuse victims, including child sex abuse statutes of limitations in the United States and internationally. Sexual abuse and the maltreatment of children often occur in secret, behind closed doors, but have public consequences. Victims, their families, and the public pay a high price even decades after the violence ends. CHILD USA draws on the combined expertise of the nation’s leading medical and legal academics to reach evidence-based solutions to persistent and widespread child abuse and neglect. For more information, visit https://www.childusa.org.
SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 by Barbara Blaine and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters. For more information, visit: https://www.snapnetwork.org.