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  Sex Crime Law: What Are We Waiting For?

By Margery Eagan meagan@bostonherald.com
Boston Herald [Massachusetts]
June 20, 2006

http://news.bostonherald.com/columnists/view.bg?articleid=144561

Is our legislative leadership down with diddlers?

You have to wonder, really, when they fiddle and diddle, pun intended, while diddlers go free.

Not that I've heard anything official, diddle-wise, about House Speaker Sal DiMasi or House Judiciary Chairman Eugene O'Flaherty or Sen. Robert Creedon, the same cabal we blamed for watering down the anti-drunken-driving legislation, Melanie's Law. Following statewide outrage, they reconsidered.

And I've not heard rumors, yet, about a diddled-up client roster for our Legislature's esteemed defense bar.

On the other hand, what's going on?

Beacon Hill has failed to significantly extend or get rid of statutes of limitations on child sex abuse, like 22 other states have done, including New Hampshire and Connecticut.

They held legislative hearings in February. Advocates did another news conference last week. Attorney General Tom Reilly, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, children's advocates, victim advocates, victims themselves and more than 100 legislators are primed for a crackdown.

"Everyone asks me the same question: 'Why hasn't this been passed?' " said Steve Krueger, one of many frustrated advocates.

There's no legitimate answer to the question, which returns us to our original question, above.

So does Krueger think leadership is down with diddlers?

He only laughed, artfully side-stepping the question.

Bob Curley, whose son, Jeffrey, was killed by sex offenders, can't fathom how lawmakers can fret over Fluffernutter sandwiches in school, for example, but can't eliminate statutes of limitations.

Does Curley think leadership is down with diddlers?

"Oh geez,"he said, artfully sidestepping as well.

So Eugene O'Flaherty was asked yesterday: Are you down with diddlers?

"I find that so offensive, but I'm used to it," said O'Flaherty, artfully sidestepping, too. He then vowed to get some legislation out of committee, but incremental changes. "My gut tells me that the last thing I want is for individuals who commit these egregious acts to get away with it," he said. "Then again, my gut tells me any time we change the rules, there is a consequence."

I regret to report that Sal DiMasi declined to be interviewed on his pro- or anti-diddler stance. However, Sen. Creedon said a fellow who comes to all these (sex crime) hearings says he's going to write a book starring the Senate president, the speaker, myself and Eugene O'Flaherty.

In an apparent nod to George Higgins' Eddie Coyle classic, Creedon said he'd title it, "The Friends of the Pedophiles."

It has a certain ring, that's true. But on a serious note here, again, what's going on? This is Boston, ground zero for the church sex-abuse crisis. We know now what happens with statutes of limitations. Child rapists get away with it. This is basic stuff, yet these guys are acting as if they're crafting something untried and exotic.

Since I've routinely trashed O'Flaherty, I give him this: He called me back. But he also said he did not want to be rushed or pressured by media or public outcry.

Why not? How much more study does this need?

Ron Bersani made passing tough drunken-driving laws a crusade in honor of his granddaughter, Melanie. Yesterday, he took time from her scholarship golf tournament to say this latest legislative stonewalling further proves that leadership doesn't get it. "I'm not the kind of person who thinks every legislator should put their finger in the air," he said, "but when (a piece of legislation) is right, it's right."

 
 

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