Friday, May 25, 2012

Msgr. Ray East, Master of Ceremonies at the Haiti Conference in Washington, D.C., fought against extending the Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse in Maryland.

How can we expect to hold people and institutions accountable for the protection of children from child sexual abuse in Haiti when Catholic bishops, lobbyists, lawyers and Catholic Conference officials in the United States are spending hundreds of thousand of dollars to kill legislation that will make children safer?

Msgr. Ray East opposes legislation to extend the Statututes of Limitation for Child Sexual Abuse.


Marci A. Hamilton: Killing abuse suit bill puts children at risk
Marci A. Hamilton


Under pressure from the Catholic Church, Maryland lawmakers shelved legislation to identify predators among us. With HB858, Maryland was part of a national movement to eliminate statutes of limitations for childhood sexual abuse. This bill offered the hope of a “window” to allow claims previously barred.

Our legal system favors predators over the protection of children. By the time victims are capable of coming forward, the law lets predators escape through the statute of limitations — again and again.

Those predators now live and work near — often with — our children, but we do not know who they are because we keep the courthouse locked against victims.

Perhaps even harder to understand, the Catholic Conference of Maryland killed this bill through lies an misrepresentations about its purposes and effects.

Churches recently distributed handouts to area Catholics making outrageous and dishonest claims. They argued the legislation “targets” the church, even though its terms plainly cover all private institutions. This claim must be challenged — clergy members attack about 5 percent of victims in this country. The rest are attacked by family, family acquaintances, teachers, coaches, scout leaders and others. Those are covered by the bill as well. So let’s get to the truth: The church’s lobbyists concocted a false accusation of “targeting” when really they are keeping the courthouse locked against millions of other victims.

The hierarchy also claims the bill targets it because so many claims have been brought against the church in other jurisdictions. But hasn’t it just made the case for the bill? Don’t the numbers prove the need for the bill? The public impact is extraordinary. Window legislation revealed predators we could not have known otherwise.

We have had two windows so far. In California 300 perpetrators were identified who were unknown before. Delaware’s window opened in July, but in both states records proved the hierarchy continues to harbor an unconscionable number of secrets, and helped to identify predators in other states.

The church also misled about who really pays settlements for covering up child abuse. So far, 50 percent of settlements have been paid by the insurance companies to whom the dioceses were paying premiums for years.

The other 50 percent has been paid by sale of land unrelated to ministry. Schools weren’t shut down and services were not curtailed. Instead, the church sold office buildings, mansions and empty lots. Indeed, one would hardly expect Catholic Charities to be affected by any settlement given that a minimum of 70 percent of funds for the major Catholic services provider comes from local, state and federal taxes.

Predictably, the church’s lobbyists complained the bill applies only to private institutions and not to public. The Constitution divides private and public, and states have always treated the two as separate.

Here is what the citizens of Maryland need to understand: If the conference really cared about children, it would introduce a bill to apply the same principles in HB858 to public entities. I support such reform. But its goal in talking about equal treatment is to kill the bill, not to aid all children.

Finally, church lobbyists argue that reopening the statutes of limitations is unfair, because evidence gets stale and witnesses die. Those deficiencies undermine the victims’ cases. It only removes the bar to a lawsuit. It does not alter the burden of proof.

Nor does the church take responsibility for the fact that the statute of limitations ran out because it did not call police when it knew priests committed crimes.

We are all complicit in the national silent epidemic of childhood sexual abuse by legally protecting predators and endangering children. Maryland leaders failed to make this state a safer place for our children.

While the men of the Catholic hierarchy and their lobbyists toast one another for eviscerating HB858, Maryland parents will never learn about 90 percent of the predators in their midst, and incest survivors can only wonder how propaganda could push their interests off the table.

Marci Hamilton is a visiting professor at Princeton University and the author of “Justice Denied: What America Must Do toProtect Its Children” (Cambridge 2008). She can be reached at

The Council of the District of Columbia Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary Public Hearing  go June 1 and click View Meeting for the complete Washington,  D.C. video hearing. It may take almost 1:50 to 2 minutes to start with:

It will take almost 1:50 to 2 minutes to start with:
Phil Mendelson, Chairman -- COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY AND THE JUDICIARY with introduction of council, and Procedures.

You can move about the testimony by watching the time on the bottom right hand corner. On the left hand corner you may drag the oval shape to the right of the green hand oval to the following times on the right hand bottom timer. 

5 min and 40 sec -- Panel 1: Mary Lou Lerry - Executive Director, National Center for Victims of Crime, Barbara Blaine - Executive Director - SNAP, Tim Healy - Survivor of clergy sexual abuse, and Vicki Polin - Executive Director, The Awareness Center.
31 min 45 sec -- Panel 2: Jane Belford, Chancellor, Archdiocese of Washington and Kevin B. Baine, Counsel, Williams and Connoly. 52 min and 50 sec -- Panel 1 answers counsel questions:
1 hr 35 min. and 45 sec. -- Panel 2 answers counsel questions.
2 hrs, 12 min and 15 sec -- Laura Hankins, Special Counsel to the Director, Public Defenders Office and 2 hrs, 19 min and 30 sec -- Patricia Riley, Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office followed by questions.
2 hrs, 41 min and 45 sec -- Vicki Polin - Executive Director, The Awareness Center, David Clohessy - National Director, SNAP,  Jeffrey Dion - Deputy Director for the National Crime Victims Bar Association and Ellen Reddy Public Witness.
3 hrs, 15 min -- Rev. Clark Lobenstine, Executive Director, Inter-Faith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, Rev. Monsignor Raymond East, Pastor St. Teresa of Avilia, Catholic and Rev. Monsignor St. Thomas More Catholic Church -- 3 hrs, 32 min, 30 sec, Rev. Clark Lobenstine relates he represent only 4 folks he  polled on a phone conference call for his position against Civil SOL.
3 hrs, 39 min and 10 sec -- Ted Thompson, Executive Director, Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, Steven Abrams - Survivor of child sexual abuse by a psychiatrist, Michele Booth Cole, Executive Director, D.C. Children's Advocacy Center, and Michael Nugent, Public Witness
4 hrs, 07 and 20 sec -- J, Robert Burgoyne, Public Witness, Helen Daly, Co-founder, Survivors Network US and J. Scott Sager, Co-founder, Survivors Network US and J. Scott Sager.
4 hrs, 22 and 45 sec -- Professor Marci Hamilton - Attorney, specialist in Constitutional law, First Amendment, Law & Religion, Joe Michael Donovan, Public Witness and Joe McMorrow, SNAP
4 hrs, 48 min -- Father Thomas Doyle, Public Witness, David Forwengler, SNAP, Alan Davis, SNAP and 5 hrs, 3 min and 53 sec. -- Charles Malineaux, Lay Catholic
5 hrs, 15 min -- Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., National Congress of Black Women, Inc., Diaris Marie Jackson, Phd, Public Witness, Murray Levin - Public Witness, 5 hrs, 27 min. Judge Sheila Murphy, Public Witness,
5 hrs, 38 min and 10 sec.-- Francis Bacon, SNAP
5 hrs, 41 min 20 sec. -- Patrick Wall, Public Witness
5 hrs, 45 min -- Larry Dassen, Public Witness
5 hrs, 54 min 30 sec -- Lee Hoke, SNAP
6 hrs, 4 min -- Kevin Floyd, Public Witness
6 hrs, 8 min -- Claudia Vercollotti, Founder, Toledo Chapter of SNAP
6 hrs, 17 min -- David Rubenstein, Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General

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