I Wish I Were In Paris

From war to peace and politics to gossip, if we have an opinion on something we'll share it here.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Surprise!! Surprise!! Surprise!! Not!!

It should come as no shock to anyone that the Catholic Church is attempting to fight legislation that would extend the amount of time a child sexual abuse victim has to pursue a lawsuit.

Uncovering Child Sex Abuse: A Stand-Off with the Catholic Church

By Bill Frogameni, Ms. Magazine. Posted August 9, 2007.

This is an excerpt from a longer report in Ms. magazine. To get the whole story, pick up Ms. magazine on newsstands now.

Joelle Casteix was a 15-year-old Catholic schoolgirl in the mid-1980s when a teacher began molesting her. The abuse ended when she was 17, but not, she says, before she contracted genital warts, got pregnant and had an abortion.

At the time of the molestation, Casteix confronted the administrators of her school, Mater Dei High in Orange County, Calif., but says she was asked to keep quiet. Behind the scenes, administrators eventually verified her claims and elicited an extraordinary signed confession from her abuser, who also admitted molesting another student.

But it wasn't until 2005 -- after the original statute of limitations had expired -- that Casteix finally found justice. Thanks to a California law enacted in 2002, she was able to compel the Church to hand over its documents, which allowed her to join a then-record $100 million settlement reached between abuse victims and the Diocese of Orange. Casteix received $1.6 million herself.

The 2002 California law gave victims of childhood sexual abuse a one-year "civil window," allowing those with otherwise expired claims to sue retroactively. Lawmakers recognized it can take years for sexually abused children to confront their abuse -- a task made all the more difficult if the abuser is a religious authority. An estimated 800 litigants took advantage of the window and filed suits, and many of those suits were settled in July when the Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay a total of $660 million to 508 victims of priest sexual abuse.

The California law was the first effort to give victims of long-ago abuse their day in court. In its wake, there's been a nationwide push to lengthen inadequate statutes and allow retroactive litigation in other states. (With criminal statutes, at least 25 states no longer have time limits for prosecuting the most serious offenses.) Approximately a dozen states have considered following California's lead and providing a "window" for retroactive civil suits, and Delaware is the latest to approve a statute-extending law with a civil window. Previous Delaware law allowed children only two years from the date of their abuse to bring civil action. "I didn't think it was fair a child would be expected to hire an attorney within two years and sue," says State Sen. Karen Peterson, who sponsored the legislation. "Some of these kids are 5 and 6 years old."

Although such legislation isn't meant to apply only to victims of clerical abuse, opposition has overwhelmingly come from the Catholic Church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops claims not to hold a position on retroactive suits, but bishops' conferences in individual states have lobbied vigorously against them. Last year, a bill proposed by Colorado State Senate President Joan Fitzgerald to extend civil statutes and create a window period was effectively killed after Colorado's bishops hired lobbyists and had letters read in church invoking the fear of bankruptcy and urging congregants to call their representatives. "It was horrific," says Fitzgerald. "They pulled out all the stops ... It seemed amazing to me -- their lack of concern for their flock and their laity."

Fitzgerald, herself Catholic, believes that concerns about unfair suits and Church bankruptcy are red herrings. The real agenda, she thinks, is to insulate Church leaders from further public scrutiny over abuse and cover-ups. Bishops are required by Church law to keep records of scandal secret, so documentation of abuse often remains in files controlled by top diocesan officials. Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), agrees with Fitzgerald that bishops' real fear is having these documents exposed. "More than anything else, they are fixated on avoiding depositions and courtroom testimony where they'll be treated like regular citizens instead of royalty, and where they'll have to explain decades of secrecy and recklessness and corruption," Blaine says.

Retroactive civil action affords a unique opportunity to identify perpetrators who escaped criminal penalties and may still be abusive, says Marci Hamilton, a professor at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law and author of God vs.The Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2005). "If you don't extend the statute of limitations and you don't create a window, it's just a given you won't know about 90 percent of the perpetrators out there," says Hamilton, who has testified in several states on the constitutionality of retroactive civil windows.

SNAP's Blaine refuses to accept a system that lets child abusers -- and those who protected them -- off the hook. "Many prosecutors are timid and many laws are antiquated," she says, "so [Church] cover-ups will stay covered up unless child sex victims are given a chance to seek justice and expose crimes in court."

If anyone is shocked by this, clearly they haven't been paying attention!!

The Catholic Church has a history of covering up sexual abuse, and protecting the abusers. Why should this be any different? This is yet another attempt to shut the victims up!!

P.S. If you get a chance, read the comments on the message board about this. I especially love the apologist for the Catholic Church. He (I'm assuming it's a he) essentially refers to the 15 year old victim as a whore, and then goes on to call her a liar. You see, according to him it's not possible that she got an STD, and became pregnant as a result of the abuse because that would mean that the school administrators would be guilty of aiding and abetting a crime. It's just not possible!!

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  • At 8:54 AM, Blogger FunkyTown Fighter said…

    You are on fucking fire with this one. I love it!!!! Of course they are going to fight it because they know they are the ones doing the majority of the shit, and if it's not the majority it's damn near close! There is a saying in spanish that I'm going to try to translate for you. It pretty much say's "The one who has done nothing wrong, has nothing to be afraid of" It sounds alot more powerful in spanish but that is basically what it means. If the Catholic Church has nothing to worry about and has really "cracked down" on abuse in the church than this legislation shouldn't bother them!! Cowards!!!! Excellent Post!!!

  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger ParisL0ve2 said…

    Thanks!! I came across this article and I was like WHAT THE HELL!! I knew instantly that I had to blog about this.

    It's not shocking to anyone who hasn't been in a coma for at least the last decade, or isn't a Catholic Church apologist. The fact that the Catholic Church would attempt to stop this legislation is no surprise.

    I really have nothing against Catholics because my mother is Catholic and I have other family members that are Catholic. Having said that, I refuse to stop blogging about the evils of the Catholic Church.

    Did you get a chance to check out the message board? Man!! That one guy was clearly an apologist and an ass at that!! To call the victim a whore and then to claim that it was impossible for her to have gotten an STD and become pregnant from the abuse got my blood boiling. He doesn't believe it's possible because it would mean that the school administration let it happen and did nothing.

    Well duh!! That's what the Catholic Church has always done. They've let the abuse happen, and have done nothing about it.

  • At 4:42 PM, Blogger FunkyTown Fighter said…

    I just checked out the message board. That Fucker clearly needs an Ass whooping and I am just the Bitch to do it! He wants to go around defending these sick fucks probably because he is a fucking pedophile just like them! You know what they say Birds of a Feather! This Bastard doesn't have a fucking clue what it is to be touched and FORCED to engage in an act that you want NO PART OF! The Bastard is lucky I don't know him cause I gaurantee he would get a GOOD ass whooping!


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