The front page story in yesterday's USA TODAY caught my attention. It was written by Marisa Kwiatkowski and John Kelly and titled COPY, PASTE, LEGISLATE The Catholic Church and Boy Scouts wield unique influence in opposing legislation that gives child sex abuse survivors more time to sue. This is their playbook.
The thrust of the article is that the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts are putting negative pressure on legislators and supporters of child abuse legislation that extends the time period in which the abused may sue private abusers and private organizations in which the abuse occurred.
The reporters never make clear what the legislation actually says. Here's the closest they come:
In his sermon, the priest talked about a bill pending in the state Legislature that would give survivors of child sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers – and the institutions that hid abuse.The vast majority of the article tells about how pressure is being put on legislators who support such bills and that those who oppose it feel they may go broke having to pay penalties assessed in those suits.
The Catholic Church was being mistreated, the priest said. Legislators were being particularly harsh toward the church while leaving public school teachers who commit crimes off the hook.
At the end of the second paragraph above is an interesting charge: "while leaving public school teachers who commit crimes off the hook." The reporters never say how protecting public institutions and abusers who work in them is handled and why it would ever be legitimate to make legislation that protects the people who are doing the legislating from the consequences of sexually abusing children. After all, legislators are part of a public institution--and as we know with Senate pages legislators have a role in sexual abuse of the young.
So, why protect public institutions and their employees from legal action that private institutions and their employees are subject to? More importantly, why legally consider children abused by people in public institutions to be unworthy of legal redress?
Marisa Kwiatkowski and John Kelly never address those issues. Apparently, they find nothing unusual about absolving politicians and people in "public service" from having to answer for their sexual abuse of children.
Personally, I'm for this sort of legislation for all victims--not just those of private organizations. In fact, I think the punishment should be stricter for public entities because children are legally forced to go to public schools unless their parents can afford an alternative. It is immoral to the core when a child has been legally forced into a dangerous situation that legislators turn a blind eye to.
I feel sorry for Kwiatkowski and Kelly and all the legislators and support groups who find child abuse by public employees to be a non-issue and their child victims unimportant. They have a moral blind spot that fouls their reporting and legislative efforts.