SCAARS AND LEGISLATIVE STAFF HAVE DISCOVERED:
- Children are at risk from child abuse because we assume our laws protect them.
- Working together we can improve laws and create a culture that rewards those who speak up rather than punish them.
PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE: Children are at risk
An examination of the facts show that the crime of child abuse is not being reported to the proper authorities. This denies proper care and treatment the victim needs to heal. In our current culture, institutions are putting their image ahead of doing what is best for the victims. As a result, the victims and their families suffer in silence. Many examples show that the victims are revictimized. Abuse victims have become collateral damage in the battle institutions wage to protect image. This reaction is much more common than is generally recognized by the public.
The result is that our society has been held back from implementing the best methods of care and prevention. This is despite the good intentions that have been written into California law.
Institutions include a diverse group of organizations including religion.
EXAMPLES OF INSTITUTIONS WHOSE CULTURE PROTECTS THEIR IMAGE ABOVE CARE FOR VICTIMS:
Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Catholic Church are emerging as institutions with serious deficiencies in the way they have dealt with child sex abuse. Media coverage of both institutions describe the consequences of favoring protecting the institution over the needs of the victims.
When Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassar, Bill Cosby, and Jerry Sandusky are mentioned in conversation, the topic of sexual abuse and sexual harassment comes to mind. The challenge will be to change the focus from individuals, to that of a culture that permits these crimes to grow from the first victim to several.
When culture is recognized as contributing to the way sexual crimes are dealt with, that insight will lead to meaningful solutions. Laws that are written with foundational insights, will help solve serious, costly, and ongoing situations in society. Sex Trafficking, Child Pornography, Child Abuse in Institutions, and Sexual Harassment have a common solution found in changing culture.
We encourage your effort to explore the insights provided in the following links. The problem will become clear. That will lead to the logic behind the legal solutions being offered.
Final Report: The Role of Organizational Culture in Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Contexts.
Child Safe Organizational Cultures
Joint Rules Committee On Sexual Harassment Problems
References linked from watchtowerdocuments.org regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses primarily:
GOOD NEWS: California’s Governor Gavin Newsom announced on October 13, 2019 that he signed AB 218 into law. Soon California’s childhood sexual assault survivors will have a three-year window from Jan. 1,2020 until Dec. 31, 2022, for the revival of past claims to file lawsuits that might have expired due to the statute of limitations.
In addition, the bill reads in part:
“This bill would expand the definition of childhood sexual abuse, which would instead be referred to as childhood sexual assault. This bill would increase the time limit for commencing an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault to 22 years from the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority or within 5 years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by sexual assault, whichever is later.”
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the author of AB 218, deserves much credit for her hard work to get this bill through California’s Legislature. And many thanks to Governor Newsom for signing AB 218 and now thousands of suffering Californians have a new chance for justice.
Draft Bill RN 1803892 (as of 2/9/2018) Draft Bill RN 1904689 (as of 1/23/2019)
Legal Decisions to Codify CA Law
CHILD USA tracks Statute of Limitations (SOL) Legislative Reform by State
IDEAS WORTH CONSIDERATION:
The Diocese has taken additional measures and continues to improve our efforts to protect children, including:
- Reporting any and all allegations of child sexual abuse to the local authorities immediately.
- Screening all employees and volunteers with multiple background certifications to ensure that individuals with a record of abuse do not have access to children.
- Teaching students how to stay safe and provide instruction in age-appropriate child abuse awareness programs.
- Requiring that all clergy, every employee and volunteer successfully complete a state-approved online training program on how to recognize and report child abuse.
- Providing ID Badges for all individuals who have completed the required background certification and training for the Diocesan Youth Protection Program.
SCAARS agrees with the Diocese proposals. See comments below.
- “Reporting child abuse is the key to preventing further abuse and the start of healing.” Of all the good ideas associated with improving child abuse laws, reporting abuse is at the top of the list. Last year a draft bill was produced with the idea of limiting “clergy penitent privilege” Draft Bill RN 1803892.
- We are asking that the wording of this bill be carefully considered. SCAARS is seeking a team to resolve the balance of First Amendment Rights with the need to report child abuse..
- Background Checks for persons who supervise students will make a contribution to improve the prevention of child abuse. SCAARS supports any efforts to improve our current system. https://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks.
- “Child Safe Organizational Cultures” contains details on how students can be trained to stay safe. SCAARS supports any legislative changes to improve this training.
NEWS OF CHANGING CULTURE IN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The following article (also posted here on this site) is a recent newsworthy article related to the importance of reporting and culture change within the Catholic Church (May 9, 2019). Penitent privilege is being altered by demand for public safety.
The law mandates that the world’s 415,000 Catholic priests and 660,000 religious sisters inform church authorities when they have “well-founded motives to believe” abuse has occurred.
Source: Pope Francis issues groundbreaking law requiring priests, nuns to report sex abuse, cover-up
Harvinder Singh’s Academic Paper on Jehovah’s Witnesses [PDF, 76 pages]
Harvinder Singh: Legislative Pressure and Culture Change among Jehovah’s Witnesses
- CIVIL ACTION NO. 18-cv-2618 (RICO Case against Catholic Church Institutions)
- This case is about the endemic, systemic, rampant, and pervasive rape and sexual abuse of Plaintiffs and Class Members perpetrated by . . . . [read more in link]
- This also is a RICO case brought pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-68. Plaintiffs’ Complaint is grounded on multiple violations of the federal mail and wire fraud statutes embodied in the RICO statute prohibiting “schemes to defraud”. . . . [read more in link]
- The RICO enterprise alleged in this Complaint . . . . [read more in link]
- C.A. No. Ni4C-05-122 MMJ (Elders Fined $19,500 for Failure to Report Child Abuse):
State of Delaware v. Laurel Delaware Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Joel Muchchansingh and William Perkins
“Laurel-Congregation-Settlement” State of Delaware
- Nunez v. Watchtower (Montana Jury Awards $35,000,000 to JW Child Abuse Victim)
Trial Transcript: 426 pages in PDF format. Neil Smith’s (Attorney for Plaintiff) closing arguments are found on pages 412 through 415.
link to trial transcript: Nunez v Watchtower
link to plaintiff’s exhibits: Nunez-Watchtower-DV16-84-Plaintiffs-Exhibits
Media Coverage (NY Post):
INVESTIGATIVE Coverage of Institutional Abuse:
Reveal News: Coverage of Jehovah’s Witnesses
INTERNATIONAL Coverage of Institutional Abuse:
PM delivers official national apology to victims of child sexual abuse – video
“The office has already begun its work to raise awareness of child safety and to drive cultural change in institutions in the community – to ensure that the systemic failures and abuses of power that brought us here today are not repeated.”
Standing with opposition leader Bill Shorten and the chairwoman of the national apology reference group, Cheryl Edwardes, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison delivers a national apology to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse
Source: PM delivers official national apology to victims of child sexual abuse – video
Full text of the apology speech for institutional child sexual abuse as delivered in parliament on Monday
Source: Scott Morrison’s national apology to Australian survivors and victims of child sexual abuse – full speech
See News for related articles.