Church and Insurance Company Stand on Wrong Side of Stronger Child Protection Laws

Author: Tim Lennon
Date Published: 01/05/2012
Tim Lennon
Tim Lennon

Today, the Supreme Court of California heard arguments about time limitations placed upon victims of childhood sexual abuse. California law states that an abused child can file charges up to the age of 26 or three years after the time they come to recognize the injury they suffered. There are a few states with no limitations on when a complaint can be made. Because of the horrendous child sex abuse crimes of Sandusky and the publicity he has received, Pennsylvania and New York are posed to eliminate time limitations. California needs to eliminate any time limitations for child abuse as well.

During the hearing today the debate was not whether a child sex abuse causes severe and crippling injury on the child. Neither was there debate about the fact that child abuse so severely injures a child that the memories remain hidden for decades. I was raped and abused when I was 13 and it took me 30 years to come to recognize and understand my abuse and its effects. The delay of decades in reporting abuse is quite common among survivors. The delay in reporting was recently demonstrated in the scandals in the sports arena leading to a significant increase in the number survivors previously unaware of their abuse as children to come forward decades later.

Today, the Supreme Court hearing floated in a cloud of legal technicalities and interpretations of the intent of the California Legislature in making the law providing no clarity. Little was to be gathered from the comments of the Court as to whether they will extend the protection of children or limit those protections. The legal issue, however, is least interesting. The real interest is which side do you stand on as exemplified in those involved in the case before the Supreme Court:

Advocates for Stronger Protection of Children

National Association for the Prevention of the Sexual Abuse of Children

National center for victims of Crime

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Childhood Sexual Abuse Victim Advocates Bill Lockyer, Nancy O’Malley and Rick Simmons

Opponents of Stronger Child Protection Laws

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockton

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento

Order of Carmelites, Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, USA Province

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

California Association of Private School Organizations (CAPSO)

Boy Scouts of America

Masonic Homes of California, INC.

The Ordinary Mutual Insurance Company

LA Times: July 13, 1987 Twelve Roman Catholic dioceses representing 1,000 churches in California, Nevada and Arizona have formed their own liability insurance company called the Ordinary Mutual. It’s an effort to reduce liability premiums, which in some cases have doubled in the past year for churches. Other types of insurance–fire, theft and property damage–will be bought from private insurers.

What kind of organization needs child abuse insurance? If the church vigorously protected children and exposed child sex abusers as vigorously as they pursue legal challenges for stronger child protection they wouldn’t need the insurance.

Every person should demand that there be no time limitation placed when a child is sexually abused. Eliminating any time limitation serves a number of purposes. First, it provides accountability for criminals committing such grievous injuries with the promise of justice. Second, it provides some resolution to victims who have carried the burden of their abuse for decades. Third, child sex abuse predators are active for decades, we need to remove them from any access to children, young people and vulnerable adults. Fourth, we need to scare the shit out of these vile criminals so that they know that they can be prosecuted anytime and can no longer use the statue of limitations as a get out of jail card.

As always, we have a responsibility to protect children. We need to be aware and take steps to educate our children. When child abuse is suspected, report it to the police or child protective agencies.

Reference to Supreme Court Case: