FACSA Update 4/18/2014

The following is the content of an email I received yesterday from the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse (FACSA):

Over the many months of the current PA Legislature’s session our team has continued to monitor for legislative efforts that will protect children from sexual predators and provide some measure of justice for CSA victims. Most recently there were several pieces of legislation signed into law by Gov. Corbett including the following changes:

  • Designated state licensing boards will now be required to provide training on child abuse recognition and reporting.
  • New provisions clarify who is mandated to report child abuse and the reporting process they must follow to report suspected abuse to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
  • Employees will now be protected from discrimination in the workplace as a result of reporting suspected abuse.
  • Penalties will increase for those required to report supposed abuse but fail to do so.

Additionally a bill providing for stable funding of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) in PA was also signed by Gov. Corbett. CACs are multidisciplinary treatment programs for abused children, which brings together doctors, nurses, prosecutors, social workers and law enforcement. This approach gives abused children the best chance to recover and also provides the most effective way to gather evidence to bring perpetrators to justice. There are currently 21 CACs in PA.

However, although more than one dozen “child protection” laws have been enacted to date, none enable the removal of known pedophiles.

One champion for this much needed legislation is Rep. Mark Rozzi. Rep. Rozzi represents part of Berks County. He and some childhood friends were victims of CSA. Rep. Rozzi has introduced several pieces of legislation to help protect children and promote justice for victims.

  • You are Invited!

Please join us in Harrisburg on Wednesday April 30th to support Rep. Mark Rozzi’s HB 2067 and after the press conference join one of our teams who will be meeting with key legislators to ask for their support of this important legislation.

PRESS CONFERENCE INFO:
Rep. Mark Rozzi Press Conference on HB 2067
WHEN: Wed. April 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM
WHERE: Capitol Media Center, Room 1 East Wing of Capitol, Harrisburg, PA

How do you get there? 

MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS:
If you are interested in joining one of our teams who will be meeting with legislators after the press conference, please contact Tammy Lerner at 610-509-9568 or email her at lerner@abolishsexabuse.org to sign on. You will need to arrive at our legislative team’s office across from the Capitol Building in Harrisburg no later than 9:00 AM  to review plans for the day.

MORE INFO RE: HB 2067:
HB 2067 does several things:

  • Going forward, it permanently eliminates the SOL for child sex abuse, both criminally (now to age 50) and civilly (now to age 30)
  • As a compromise, it does allow for previously time-barred victims (up to age 50) to bring suit.
  • If the perpetrator was employed by a public or private entity that owed a duty of care for the victim, damages against the entity may be awarded with a finding of “gross negligence”.
  • Add “child sex abuse” as an exception to immunity laws thereby removing the “sovereign immunity” defense for public officials and institutions.

Why this legislation is important:

  • Victims deserve their day in court.
  • It takes courage (and often decades) for children to acknowledge abuse.
  • Perpetrators and responsible entities have not been held accountable.
  • Perpetrators are still involved with children.
  • Perpetrators have been deliberately shielded from prosecution.
  • The SOL laws are arbitrary and archaic.
  • Only lawmakers have the power to enact laws to protect the public.
  • Although more than one dozen “child protection” laws have been enacted to date, none enable the removal of known pedophiles.
  • HB 2067 is sound public policy.

Below is part of an e-mail Rep. Rozzi recently sent to his colleagues to encourage them to support HB 2067:

“Once again I am appealing to the sense of civic responsibility that leads every one of us to seek public office.  As legislators, we have an obligation to institute laws that safeguard our citizens… especially those who cannot protect themselves.

“We read how venerable institutions, insulated by outdated laws, have not only allowed the victimization of children….but have exposed countless others to the horrors of sexual abuse.   The problem will NEVER GO AWAY as long as perpetrators are shielded.  Witness Sandusky, the Boy Scouts, any religious organization, and any school system…public or private.

“We have learned that victims of child sex abuse often take decades to acknowledge their demons and that they rarely make false claims.  We know that perpetrators can’t stop abusing.  But if we can give survivors of child sex abuse the opportunity to expose predators through accessing records to support their claims, without the constraints of arbitrary statutes of limitations, than this will go a long way to stop the abuse of the next generation of children.

“I implore you to co-sponsor my legislation, House Bill 2067 and call upon the Chairmen of the Judiciary Committee to at least hold a meeting on the merits of the measure.  On behalf of all victims of child sexual abuse, I thank you in advance for your consideration and support.”

FACSA’s mailing address is:

FACSA
740 Cornerstone Lane
Bryn Mawr, Pa 19010

You can make a contribution to FACSA!

 

If you live in PA, A word from FACSA (Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse)…

FACSA – Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse

Contact Your PA House Rep ASAP

Please contact your local PA House legislator and ask him/her to support Rep. Mark Rozzi’s proposed amendments to Senate Bill 681 which the full PA House will be voting on very soon possibly in the next day or so.

A. How to find your legislator: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

B. Bullet points we suggest you use in your communication with him/her:

  • Please support SB 681
  • Additionally, please support the all the Rozzi amendments that will help give justice to victims of child sex abuse which increase the statute of limitations from 12 years to 32 years for civil actions arising from the sexual abuse of a minor and create a two year “window” to allow past child sexual abuse victims the opportunity to seek civil recourse from their perpetrators.
  • Include a short sentence or two of why you support this legislation.
  • Thank them for their consideration of this matter.
  • Include your name and address.

—————————————-
FYI: Letter we sent to all legislators today. It has a bit more detail about the proposed legislation.

December 9, 2013

Dear Legislator:

The House will soon consider SB 681 which would allow victims of sex crimes to protect themselves from predators. While we support this legislation, we ask that you also support the Rozzi amendments to give victims access to justice. Currently, Pennsylvania’s archaic statute of limitations laws mean that thousands of victims cannot have access to the courts for civil proceedings – just because their legal “clock” has expired.

The first Rozzi amendment would remove the statute of limitations for civil actions arising from the sexual abuse of a minor and provide a “window” up until age 50 for abuse victims to file civil action if the statute of limitations has expired. It would also remove “sovereign immunity” defenses for public officials who commit sexual abuse.

Other amendments would increase the statute of limitations from 12 years to 32 years for civil actions arising from the sexual abuse of a minor and create a two year “window” to allow past child sexual abuse victims the opportunity to seek civil recourse from their perpetrators.

We are bombarded by horrendous stories of child abuse and the legal maneuvering that ensues.

For those of you who want real justice for the Sandusky victims or the victims of the Philadelphia Catholic diocese scandals, it is time to amend our outdated statutes of limitations.

It is time to stand up for the victims; not the predators.

Below and attached please find over 30 organizations who strongly support statute of limitations reform:

Catholic Whistleblowers, Child Protection Project, Coached Into Silence, Crime Victims Center, Culture of Silence Film, Horace Mann Action Coalition, Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, Justice4PAKids, Justtell.org, Let Go Let Peace Come In Foundation, MaleSurvivor, Ms. Foundation, National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, National Child Protection Training Center, National Crime Victim Bar Association, National District Attorneys Association, OAASIS: Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors in Service, Parents for Megan’s Law, PA Gestalt Center, Patches Kids, PCADV: PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence, PCAR: PA Coalition Against Rape, Protect the Hershey’s Children, Inc., S.E.S.A.M.E., Inc.: Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, Safe4Athletes, SFJ: Survivors for Justice, SNAP: Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SOL-Reform.com, Stop the Silence, The Awareness Center, The National Center for Victims of Crime, Turning Point, Vertigo, LLC/Pursuit of Truth Film, Voice of the Faithful

On behalf of all of them, and on behalf of victims everywhere, please vote for the Rozzi amendments to SB 681.

Justice4pakids-5k Run/Walk & 1 Mile Kid Run

Passed along from a friend in PA:

Justice4pakids-5k Run/Walk & 1 Mile Kid Run

On May 4th, 2013 8am come out and run or walk the beautiful Chester Valley Trail located near Exton, PA. Punch into your GPS 140 Church Farm Lane Exton, PA as this is our starting point! There is plenty of parking, public restrooms and a playground!

Register today at:

https://www.signup2raceusa.com/ccrs/justice4pakids/

The race is being managed by the Chester County Running Company .

The cause is for Justice4pakids,  a non-profit working for better laws in our state for sexually abused victims. We want to raise money to do more child safety awareness seminars that are free and open to the public. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before age 18 and we want those numbers to change!

We have lots of great items for every child who participates such as free bowling passes, free cones from Dairy Queen, coupons for Rita’s Water Ice, free passes for Bounce U and each child gets a medal! The prize wheel will raffle off a Wegman’s gift card, 6 passes for QVC Studio behind the scenes tour, one free day of doggie care at Wagsworth Manor and much more.  People are sending in prizes every day!

Every runner gets a T-shirt. The race is a timed event and winners in age categories will be presented with a medal!

Free pizza and refreshments from Seasons Pizza for all!

Please sign up online or email info@justice4pakids.com if you have questions!

Is the PA House Judiciary Committee Chairman Protecting An Abuser?

There is a fight going on in the State Assembly in Harrisburg.   House Judiciary Committee Chairman Ron Marsico is opposed to Window Legislation that would allow a window to open for civil cases to be brought against pedophiles and other sexual predators who have committed crimes against children and vulnerable adults.    Marsico is a Catholic, so it is logical that he would like to protect his church.  Well, not really logical, perhaps it is understandable that he would bow to pressure from his church.

But I am thinking that there may be a more personal reason here.   A priest by the name of Guy Marsico was credibly accused of abusing a child and removed from ministry in the Harrisburg area.   Is it possible that Representative Ron Marsico is protecting a family member who would stand to face civil action if a window was opened?  This may not be political.  It could be very personal, family business.  I wonder what, if any,  the familial relationship is between the House Judiciary Chairman in Harrisburg and the  former priest assigned to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Rohrerstown?

That would be a fairly huge conflict of interest and a slap at survivor’s of sexual abuse as children if it turns out that the peoples’ representative is putting the interests of a predator family member ahead of the protection of children and justice for victims of prior abuse.  I would love to know the answer!

House Bill 342 needs to get an up or down vote on the floor of the Pennsylvania State Assembly.

Is there a Survivor’s Community?

The past year has seen some spectacular events that have given some hope to survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands pedophile predators in our society.  Indeed this crisis knows no borders and is not limited to those of a certain faith.  We have seen the conviction of a Catholic Bishop for covering up sexual crimes committed against children, the conviction and imprisonment of Jerry Sandusky for committing those crimes and a monsignor in Philadelphia for carrying out a program of protecting pedophiles at the expense of innocent children and parishioner’s money.   Large institutions still are willing to sacrifice the innocent in order to protect the privilege of the few at the top and to prevent scandal from coming to light.

For me personally, I have had to come to grips with the death of the predator who counted me as one of his many victims.  He was prolific throughout his life in targeting boys in dysfunctional family situations from alcoholism to catastrophic illness.  He hid behind his Roman Collar and he found the protection of a Diocese that was willing to move him around to different parishes and ultimately out of the diocese and the state to keep him safe from prosecution.

With the announcement that the Pope has offered his resignation, something not done in over 600 years, just as the documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa” has aired on HBO (see the promo here), I wonder what the future of the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church will be.   I can safely say that the entire College of Cardinals who will be voting in the next few weeks were elevated to helm of their respective curiae by either John Paul II or Benedict XVI.  In a word, they are very conservative in the mold of the men who hoped to shape their church by selecting Cardinals who shared similar conservative outlooks on the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

The one piece of the puzzle that continues to vex me is the Survivor Community.  The community that speaks for the victims.  There isn’t really a strong confederation of groups in the United States that networks survivors and promotes an agenda in the State Capitols.  There is no larger, worldwide organization that stands up for the survivors, that is a solid united front for the people who have been neglected all these years.

At this point I will say, again, that I don’t think SNAP is effective because its national leadership seems disconnected from the rest of us.   The organization is not a network, despite its name.   There is a vocal element out there that feels that the organization is an arm of the Catholic Church because of the way it is formed.  They base this claim on the letter that follows:

snap incorporating paper

Personally, I am not convinced this is a smoking gun.  I think this was more of the birth of an organization that did not know how to chart its own course at its genesis.  But I will let you come to your own conclusions.

During the last week I have been having a heated electronic correspondence with another survivor who has accused me of rolling over on the survivor community and stunting a dialogue between us.   I have been accused of many things in the past few years from all sides of this issue.  But, as much as I hate to admit it, my correspondent has got me thinking.  We talk about a survivor community as if it really exists.   We talk about networks but we are not networked as a community.

I need to know what the expectations of survivors are (I hate the word victim).  I need to hear the thoughts of others with similar experiences on what needs to be done.  I need  to know what expectations are out there.   If we are going to be a community, a network there is needs to be a common philosophical and pragmatic basis to gather the various groups into a confederation, an alliance or a coalition.

There are a lot of egos in this community.  Mine to be counted among them.  There has to be a way to come to some kind of accord in order to optimize the talents, energy and, if need be, the anger that resides within the universe of survivors and their supporters.

If no accord can be reached, is there another way to harness the energy of survivors to achieve tangible goals for our society so that we can remove the veil of protection that pedophiles in large institutions have enjoyed in the name of saving the reputation of those institutions?  I have said it before and I will continue to say that I had to keep my great terrible secret alone for all those years, my perp had help keeping his.

My questions are not rhetorical, I need to know.  I need you to tell me.  I think we all need to have the discussion in a civil manner.  But the discussion needs to be had, by the entire community, if there is really a community out  there.

I am waiting to hear from all of you.

SNAPpish

I put a blog post on January 16 entitled 99,601.  I thought it was pretty innocuous, more of a “I’m still out here” piece than anything else.   It drew a vitriolic response from one reader who decided that it was more of an exercise in narcissism and that I should be taking a more vocal stand against the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).  To be honest, this is my blog and I am going to write as often as I am moved to on topics of my choosing.  If you don’t like it I would like to direct you the freshly pressed section of WordPress.  There is some really neat stuff there.

If you have read this blog for any length of time you will know that I do not have a lot of love for the National Director of SNAP.   I have voiced my opinion on SNAP and the way the national board conducts business.  I wrote a blog post entitle Parting Company with SNAP that spun up a lot of comments and heated discussion, some of it too nasty to approve on both sides of the discussion.   Do I really want to rehash that?  Not so much!   I don’t think, as a blogger, I need to announce annually  that I am not a fan of the national leadership of SNAP.  I still hold out hope that at some point the Survivor community finds a network where we all get an opportunity to work together collectively to advance a legislative agenda that will lengthen statutes of limitation

Instead of pointing out, again, that I think SNAP is a self licking ice cream cone, I choose to spend my time and some of my money supporting organizations like the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse and Justice4PAKids and their efforts to change laws and do real and tangible good.  They are making a difference.  SNAP is more focused on having 2 conferences this year, one here in the States and the other in Ireland.   I guess the National director is working on improving his standing in the airline rewards program of his choice.

At this point I would add that I am very impressed by some of the state SNAP coordinators.  Becky Ianni in Virginia is the real deal.  I have only met her twice, but she is a force for good in the northern Virginia and Washington DC region.  I would gladly support any effort she led.   Karen Polesir has helped me on occasion and is active in a coalition of groups working to get SOL and window legislation through the State Assembly in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I support people like Kay Ebeling who has been reporting (not blogging, reporting) on the sexual abuse crisis for years and has gotten little support from   the survivor community.  She has been inspiring and I consider her a friend.  Funny, the vocal ones have the church, its apologist and many survivors attacking them.   I guess that is the point I am circling here.   Even in the survivor community there is a chasm between elements.  Being a good, compliant survivor or victim makes you a darling to some of the national groups.  Dare to criticize them and see how quickly you are on the outs.  Lessons learned from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church I guess.

For now I look at the future.  I think that change will come but it will not be led by a national organization.  We don’t have an effective one.  It will be led by regional groups, some affiliated with larger organizations, some will be independent.  Fools will rush in and out.   We all need to stay the course.   We really will not get anywhere if we are sniping at each other.

PA Legislators Reintroduce Child Sex Abuse Legislation

The State Assembly in Harrisburg will be taking up the issue of child abuse legislation again.  The following is the first two paragraphs of an article on what went on in Harrisburg earlier this week.   Click on the link below to read the full story.

“Representatives Michael McGeehan (D-Philadelphia) and Louise Bishop (D-Philadelphia) were joined by colleagues and advocates to announce the reintroduction of child sex abuse legislation and a renewed push to get the legislation enacted. Members present included Representatives Tim Briggs (D-Montgomery), Michelle Brownlee (D-Philadelphia), Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery), Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny), Kevin Haggerty (D-Lackawanna), Stephen Kinsey (D-Philadelphia), Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), Duane Milne (R-Chester), Tom Murt (R-Montgomery), Cherelle Parker (D-Philadelphia), Mark Rozzi (D-Berks), Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh), and Ron Waters (D-Philadelphia).

Rep. Bishop shared her personal story as a victim of child sexual abuse to explain why she introduced HB 237. Bishop, who came out last year as a victim, described her struggle with keeping the abuse a secret and why it took her so long for her to finally disclose it. She reiterated that HB 237, which would remove the statute of limitations on criminal charges and civil lawsuits, was not about money. She stressed that the legislation is about allowing the women and men who were abused as children to seek justice and receive the help they need to heal. She believes she was sent to the House of Representative to take care of the victims. As a mother and grandmother, Bishop said that she wants to help those who have been abused. She repeated that “it is time to put victims first” and asked for the legislation to move out of Committee, be considered by all legislators and signed into law.”

Read the full story at: http://wallaby.telicon.com/PA/library/2013/20130123CT.HTM