Saturday, May 12, 2018

A Statute of Limitations For Sex Assault Makes No Sense

 To do away with evil, we should get rid of laws which don't protect the victims and strengthen those that do.

Make facts of sexual harassment/abuse and punishment timeless.

Betsy Combier
Advocatz.com
betsy@advocatz.com


The Sex Assault Avengers: The Enemies and a Superpower
Is it any wonder that Avengers: Infinity War has set records at the box office as you can see here and here. It’s about evil characters so strong that all of Marvel Comic’s favorite Avenger superheroes must join forces. Good battles evil and we know who is good and who is evil. How comforting that is in the #MeToo era when the men we revere turn out to be small and evil.
These are perilous times for fighting evil as admired and beloved heroes are falling from grace at a frightening pace. This week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a proponent of the #MeToo movement and self-declared friend of women’s empowerment, had to step down the same day that Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker reported that four women had accused him of physical and/or sexual assault. In mere hours, he went from hero to madman who allegedly drunkenly and maniacally attacked women.
The men who are the enemies of the vulnerable in real life preen and brag just like Thanos. Nauseatingly, Schneiderman threatened one of his victims, Michelle Manning Barish, to stay silent by declaring that “I am the law.” They also engage in dirty tricks like Bill Cosby. When first accused publicly of sex assault, Cosby sued 7 of his accusers for defamation. And they have lame underlings who throw whatever they have at the heroes as well. For example, his wife, Camille Cosby declared after he was convicted that he was a “victim” of “mob justice.” I guess that is what you would call a conviction after over 60 women came forward….
The forces of evil never give up, either. They try to belittle the victims. Roman Polanski recently called the #MeToo Movement “collective hysteria.” That is actually hysterically funny coming from a man accused by two underage girls of sex assault, where the claims are so credible he can’t travel to the United States for fear of justice putting him in jail.
It’s not just single perpetrators who are operating to impress evil on society. The largest institution on the globe—the Catholic Church—is sitting on the greatest number of undisclosed sex abuse claims in the world while they keep telling us that they have established the “gold standard” of child protection. It is supposedly a safe place now. For those who want to believe that, they need to attend to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s announcement this week of the arrest and indictment of an Erie diocese priest, David Poulson, for sexual abuse of two boys, one of whom is now only 23 years-old. Shapiro said there were other victims, but they were out of statute—of course. The youth of this victim gives a lie to the typical line by the bishops that this is all behind them. The public still doesn’t know the names of most abusive priests, many of whom are still in ministry. That’s the simple reason that they fight tooth and nail to block statute of limitations reform—it will release their dark secrets and empower the forces for good.

The Superpower Victims of Sex Assault Need: Access to Justice

There is one superpower the victims need to defeat the evil of their attackers and the secrecy that has been foisted upon them: justice. Most missed the central access-to-justice story at the Cosby trial: Andrea Constand was the only victim out of the dozens that have come forward against Cosby to be in statute so that criminal charges could be brought, and she almost missed the deadline by mere months.
Cosby’s guilty verdict was followed by a triumphant press conference by Gloria Allred with numerous clients behind her and cheers from survivors everywhere. This was a day for all women we were told. Well, not exactly. Those other women only were able to exult because one woman barely made it under the wire to press charges. This was an opportunity to educate on the shortcomings of the law. Had Constand not made the deadline, Cosby would still be out there declaring his innocence and the victims would still have the pall of unproven claims against an iconic figure wafting over their heads. There’s nothing like a guilty verdict to clear the air.
Moreover, Constand just made the criminal SOL, but she is way beyond the civil SOL, as are virtually all of the other Cosby victims. That means that Cosby will sit in jail while his hundreds of millions appreciate outside. Camille will be able to count their riches while the victims are forced to bear the costs of the abuse themselves. That is not justice. It’s the nefarious plan of an Ultron, he of the synthetic brain and brilliant strategizing for evil.
Of course, the powers-that-be like the status quo, and so they fight dirty to keep the SOLs that maintain the balance of power in their favor. Michigan has the absolute worst civil SOLs for child sex abuse in the United States. Yet, the lineup of the powerful to defeat modest SOL reform is stunning: the “American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, universities and municipal groups, doctors, religious organizations and groups that work with children.” Even judges are coming out of the woodwork to decry the end of Michigan’s unjust regime. This is despite the experience of SOL reform in other states, which disproves their specious arguments. Those facts tell you that the sky does not fall when the victims are empowered and the evil held to account. Quite to the contrary. Facts empower the victims, and access to justice is their superpower.
Statutes of limitations make absolutely no sense in cases of sex assault unless you want Thanos to win due to a technicality. Who wants that?
 
Marci A. Hamilton is the Fox Professor of Practice and Fox Family Pavilion Resident Senior Fellow in the Program for Research on Religion in the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania; the founder, CEO, and Academic Director of the nonprofit think tank to prevent child abuse and neglect, CHILD USA, and author of God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty and Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children. She also runs two active websites covering her areas of expertise, the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, www.RFRAperils.com, and statutes of limitations for child sex abuse, www.sol-reform.com. Her email address is hamilton02@aol.com

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