PA – Abuse panel recommendations made public, SNAP responds

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

Posted by Barbara Dorris on November 27, 2012

We’re disappointed that this panel puts so much emphasis on mandatory reporting laws when there are better ways to stop child sex crimes.

There are two main problems with mandatory reporting laws; they’re rarely used and the penalties for breaking them are rarely stiff. For decades, thousands of adults have ignored or hidden child sex crimes, knowing there’s virtually no chance they’ll be punished.

So even if these two problems are fixed, it will take years and years of vigorous and repeated prosecution by police and prosecutors – and tough penalties by judges and juries – until mandatory reporting reforms will even begin to make a difference and deter wrongdoing.

In contrast, statute of limitations reform –especially a civil window – will immediately make kids safer by exposing hundreds of child sex offenders. It will also better discourage employers from ignoring or enabling child sex crimes in the future.

Stronger penalties for those who refuse to report are good. So are better definitions of child abuse and more advocacy and rape crisis centers.

But these reforms, if enacted, nibble at the edges of child sex crimes and cover ups. Statute of limitations reform is much more effective and immediate. (See statement below) . …

A crucial oversight by PA child sex task force?

Statement by David Clohessy, SNAP Director (314-566-9790,

The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection will issue a report today. But we fear it won’t address a key issue: safeguarding kids by reforming Pennsylvania’s predator-friendly civil statute of limitations. And if this oversight does happen, it will be an opportunity sorely missed.

The task force members are no doubt well-intentioned. We are grateful for their work and look forward to their recommendations.

But the group is headed by a prosecutor, who deals with criminal cases, not civil cases. And it arose out of a criminal controversy – the crimes of Jerry Sandusky and his Penn State supervisors.

So we suspect the panel didn’t carefully look at ways that civil laws can better protect kids. Based on our 24 years of experience, we in SNAP believe that the single most effective way that secular authorities can do more right now to prevent child sex crimes and cover ups is to reform archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly statutes of limitations – both criminal AND civil.

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