Washington D.C.--SNAP urges Congress to censure Hastert & reform SOL
For immediate release: Wednesday, April 27, 2016
We urge Rep. Paul Ryan and the House of Representatives to censure Dennis Hastert. Inaction makes it harder for victims to report crimes. But strong action – and sometimes strong statements – can make it easier for victims to step up, expose wrongdoers and protect kids.
We also hope that Congress will act on Senator Chuck Schumer’s new proposal to reform the federal statute of limitations on child sex crimes.
It’s sad that even now, Hastert’s still sugar-coating his crimes, saying “mistreat” instead of “abused.”
It’s silly to speculate about whether Hastert’s remorse is sincere. If he’ll lie to the FBI, he’ll lie to a judge, especially if he thinks it will lighten his sentence.
It’s wrong for Hastert’s backers to claim “he’s suffered enough” and that Hastert’s purported “humiliation” is a sufficient sentence. The justice system, not social media or public shame, determines a criminal’s sentence.
It’s troubling to hear talk of how much “good” Haster did. He molested kids, lied to the FBI and tried to frame one of victims. He fought for and won power, wealth and prominence. It’s hard to see him as much more than a self-serving criminal and politician. And this claim – “he’s done a lot of good” – is made by nearly every child molesting cleric, teacher, therapist and Scout leader.
It’s inspiring that Scott Cross testified today. He could have stayed in the shadows. But he did his duty by calling prosecutors. And he went beyond that and revealed his name, an act of real courage. We hope others who were raped, sodomized or fondled as youngsters will follow his example.
It’s also inspiring to see the courage of Jolene Burge. Loved ones of abuse victims should be inspired by her. On behalf of her deceased brother Steve, Jolene has bravely and eloquently helped shine a light on Hastert’s crimes. We praise her for stepping up. And we hope other relatives of abuse victims who have died speak out on their behalf and help expose adults who commit and conceal this devastating horror.
Hastert’s sentence would likely have been lighter had Scott and Jolene not acted responsibly and spoken up. Illinois citizens owe them both a debt of gratitude.
It’s not enough that some in Yorkville are “turning against” Hastert. These adults should gently but persistently seek out others who may have been hurt as kids by Hastert. Current and former school district staff should especially launch such an outreach effort, including mailings to families whose kids were in school when Hastert was a teacher and a coach.
We hope that federal prosecutors will join us in calling on lawmakers, at both the state and federal levels, to end the archaic, predator-friendly statutes of limitations that block most child sex abuse victims from protecting kids and exposing predators in court.
We firmly believe that somewhere in this country, another young man who was assaulted by Hastert struggles with addictions, agoraphobia, depression or eating disorders. (He likely has long moved far away from Yorkville.) He feels alone and ashamed. We hope he’ll summon the strength to pick up the phone and call a friend, relative, therapist or support group and get the comfort he needs and deserves.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)