Letters with Respect to the January 31, 2004 SNAP Meeting Held in the Philadelphia Area
Downloaded February 10, 2004
The SNAP meeting last Saturday left me with a less than totally positive attitude towards the organization. This was particularly the result of the emphasis of extending the CRIMINAL statue of limitations regarding pedophilia and ephibophilia--to the point that a professor from the Brandeis School of Law elicited applause when she expressed her opposition to ANY time limit on CRIMINAL prosecutions of such alleged offenders.
We have statutes of limitations for both civl and criminal actions to prevent injustices resulting from so-called stale cases: memories of witnesses have dimmed, some witnesses may have died, records have been destroyed. I recall the efforts in an Israeli court to punish "Ivan the Terible," a concentration-camp guard some half-century after the alleged offenses occurred. Former inmates all swore that they 'recognized" the defendant as "Ivan." From pictures in the newspapers, the defendant appeared far from youthful.) Ultimately, it was determined from late-obtained evidence that the defendant was NOT "Ivan"--as the defendant had long contended--and that all of the testimony had been mistaken.
I am supportive of extending the CIVIL statute of limitations to assure that "victims" be compensated for their injuries. But, a demand for CRIMINAL prosecution of men in their 60s and 70s for offenses that occurred perhaps 20 or 30 years beforehand is seeking more than restitution. Our criminal jurisprudence itself disclaims the idea that its purpose is punishment. Instead, it's deterrence and rehabilitation--none of which appear to be applicable in the instances of priests charged with abuse decades before. So, SNAP seems only to be pursuing an extension of the CRIMINAL statute of limitations as an act of vengeance against the abusive priests. I can understand the victim's desire for vengeance. But, I was always taught that, when I have feelings of that sort, I need to go to confession. Regardless of the merits of the victims' complaints, I believe that adopting such a vengeful attitude towards their abusers seems overreaching--unworthy--on SNAP's part and so alienates many people.
As a professed supporter of SNAP, VOTF should bring this concern to SNAP's attention.
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