Statutes of Limitations Are Necessary on Child Sexual Abuse
Sen. Rich Pahls misses the actual problem
The respectable Senator Rich Pahls wrote a column for the World Herald proposing to end the statute of limitations regarding civil suits on child sexual abuse. On the topic of child molestation, I realize the majority of people are likely of the passion of: “Can’t we just set them all on fire and call it a day?” My response is a very stoic, no. We have laws for a reason which ensure all involved parties are fairly heard before life, liberty and property are deprived. Without the law, there is no civilization, justice or liberty.
First, I fail to see the value of allowing a 95 year old person to suddenly show up in court claiming they were molested when they were 5 years old and now want compensation. Their 90 years of silence enabled the perpetrator to molest others for decades.
Think about this. Your ten year old child was sexually molested and suddenly a 40 year old person comes up to you and says, “Yeah, they molested me too when I was 10 years old but I never told anyone.” Justice delayed is justice denied. In this case, the delay resulted in your child being molested. These types of enablers should not be emboldened by giving them more time to report. The law is already generous enough in allowing such crimes to be reported. Let us not make it worse.
Second, I am opposed to changes in the law which will merely give far more money to lawyers. There is a difference between criminal law and civil law. Criminal law has many thresholds to meet whereas civil law does not have as many. The lawyers love civil lawsuits because they can extort a great deal of money from organizations which are unprepared for such an assault. The Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America were pummeled over often baseless accusations, innuendos, gossip and hearsay in the news media. The lawyers were often the ones pushing the false information to get the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts to cave. In the end, the lawyers, not the victims, get most of the money. What money goes to the victims is often taxed away by the progressive income tax. Yet the gambler will still make the claim of being molested to get payola.
What is disturbing is how quickly the publicity went into the gutter. I remember a headline “Priest showered with boys”. People were outraged. Yet, if anyone read the details, this was a public shower which is common for gyms, pools and fitness centers. There was no inappropriate action by the priest who was a gym teacher. Many men and boys shower together in public showers as do many women and girls. Such culture may be alien to you but I have experienced it as both boy and man.
Civil lawsuits have other problems. There are pathetic liars who will lie for sympathy and money. These individuals are often well known by law enforcement and prosecutors and these liars will not be called upon to testify in criminal court. However, such pathetic liars are excellent primers in civil suits. If you want to know how three victims end up being 300, the pathetic liars make it possible.
Here is a shocker for you. There are more active child molesters in the public school systems compared to the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts. I am not talking about mere pedophiles who can restrain their behavior. I am talking about active child molesters. The public school systems have smarter lawyers who pay the extortionist level of settlement fees very quickly and are smart enough to have non-disclosure clauses. This keeps such abuse out of the public’s eye. I speculate one of our local school districts has paid out anywhere from 5 to 25 million dollars in settlement fees but due to non-disclosure clauses, finding such payouts appears to be difficult.
Third, changing the statute of limitations will do very little for the most outrageous and destructive sexual abuse cases. I am referring to incest. You can complain about the dirty old men fingering underage kids and performing oral sex on them, but those cases are flat out boring compared to the reign of terror experienced by incest victims. A victim of incest cannot escape their abuser and at the same time, they see great danger in reporting the abuse as they know it can break up the family. Yet they are frequently abused over years.
Incest is not just adults having sex with children but parents forcing siblings to have sex with each other or with animals or other gross things. In many cases, siblings abuse siblings or others. The cases are diverse, and the victims often try to rationalize away what happened. In the end, they can’t and suffer long term psychological damage.
I spoke to one mother who had been abused as a child. The damage she received is extensive. She is a proud parent but when her children go on a sleepover, it is a 5 alarm fire of anxiety for her. She takes prescription medication to contain her anxiety because she does not want her anxiety to interfere with her children having a normal life. You won’t read much in the news media about incest. Family privacy is the reason, but such privacy is hiding substantial amount of abuse of children.
So I hope this article gives you pause on the "set them on fire" passion.
You can see Sen. Pahls essay at link below: