State legislative window of opportunity
"We've got generations of kids, who are now adults, in their 30's, 40's and 50's, and even 60's and 70's, who are capable of exposing their perpetrators ... and we want the chance to. We're not asking to lighten the burden of proof. We're not asking to set aside any rules of evidence. We understand the burden is completely on us. But, we believe that we'd like the chance. All we're asking for, is more time, and to have the courts, and our civil laws, to recognize that the psychological damage done to children prohibits us from being able to come forward until we're well into adulthood. So, we've got generations of kids who are now adults, like me ...who are capable, and ready, and want to expose our predators, and want our day in court ... and all we're asking for, is that opportunity." ~ Barbara Blaine
The ‘Windows Law', or, the ‘Statute of Limitations Reform Legislation', is really a Child Human Rights movement. ~ Jeff Anderson
(Jeff, continued) I've represented over 2,000 survivors, in cases against the Church hierarchy across the country, in the last twenty-plus years. I continue to represent hundreds of survivors ...those that involved in the California settlements and the trials ...and, in the passage of laws across the country, hopefully, more to come. In the settlements in Southern California, I'm currently involved in litigation against 50 Dioceses across the country, and another 25 against Orders.
There are statutes of limitations, civilly and criminally. The criminal statue of limitations, that is for prosecution and imprisonment. Then, there's civil ... that's where we get involved ...suing them for accountability. In California, ‘The Window Law' was passed in 2002 that created a 1-year window of opportunity for survivors to bring suit ...that resulted in over 250 offenders being exposed to the civil suits. And in a stunning settlement that we just reach in California, 660 million dollars for 505 survivors.
The bottom line is, that legislation, and legislation like it just passed in Delaware, is now starting to catch the attention of lawmakers and public policy makers across the country. And, in ten states, there are large bills, or initiatives underway, to relax, reform or repeal statues of limitations .
The ‘Window Law', like the California and the Delaware law, in one strategy that is being considered. It's not the complete and total answer ...but, it's a giant step forward. Because, what it does is allow survivors to expose the offenders in a culture that protects them, to civil litigation, to allow their secrets to become public, and in-so-doing, the sins of the past are less likely to be repeated in the future.
It's a really important public policy, because the statutes of limitations are historical, legal statutes that refer backwards, that say justice requires that people assert their claims, quickly.
But, when it comes to children, in terms of rules to protect them, those statutes of limitations portent to only one class ... the predators and those who protect them. In the case of the Catholic Bishops ...or, in the case of the Boy Scouts ...their superiors ...in the case of the school officials -- whoever it is, oftentimes these people can't thrive, and re-offend ...unless, they're protected by their superiors.
So, The Statues of Limitations Reform Initiative, is really a Child Human Rights movement, that is moving the public policy agenda to the recognition of public policy is written right now, to protect the wrong class.
Worldwide, it's just coming to the fore. In Australia, in the United Kingdom, in Germany, and to some extent, France and elsewhere. I have long been concerned about the international movement of these priests by the religious Orders(Barbara, continued) ~ In Delaware, the Governor signed a bill last month creating a ‘window' in Delaware. It's got to be done in each State, cause it's State law. There are some creative indirect routes that can be done, but the right way to do it is through each State. The biggest opposition is the Catholic Church. The Church should be standing up, supporting the rights of kids and trying to protect kids. And instead, they're fighting for the rights of child molesters, and worrying about the rights about child molesters, instead of the rights of the kids. The Church fights us on these bills. They have fought us really hard and strong in a couple states, specifically, Ohio and Colorado. If you're going to talk to Montel, we'd like to work that window.
First of all, in the State of California, that's where the ‘Window' was first passed, in 2000. It became effective Jan. 1, 2003. It's taken this long to weave it's way through the courts, but that's why there was a large settlement in Los Angeles last month, of 650 million dollars, agreed to be paid to about 500 victims.
On top of that, documents will be exposed.
What is a ‘window'?
A window, is a period of time wherein the State will set aside the Statue of Limitations, and allow victims who couldn't come forward sooner, to have their change to have their day in court.
The reason that we're asking this, is because victims can't report when they're kids, it takes us well into adulthood before we can report. So, regarding the Statue of Limitations, people like me, I couldn't file back then, and I couldn't file within the time of my Statute, but I can file today. So what we're asking, is that the courthouse doors be opened for the victims who can file and want to file and want a forum to expose their perpetrator. We believe, for example, it's sad I didn't get my day in court, and my perpetrator gets away with it. But, what's devastating, is he's still out there ... and can be abusing more children. In my particular case, and I think my case is so common in this way ... is that others were abused after I had reported him ... and that I'd reported him was never made public, because the court doors were closed to me.
So, the ‘Window' will allow others to come forward, and report their abuse.
In California, the window was for one year. In Delaware, the Governor just signed a bill last month (July 10, 2007), they created a 2-year window in Delaware. So, in Delaware now, all the victims have two years to come forward. What this is doing, is just acknowledging what the mental health professionals have made clear to us ... ‘we didn't know then, what we know now' ...and, the laws that apply to us, are the laws that were in place at the time of our abuse. So, what we're asking for, and what the window creates, is an opportunity to come forward, even though we otherwise would have been prohibited from doing so.
In California, the window allows for the filing of civil suits, not criminal suits. The reason it was so successful in California, is because what it did, was expose predators who were still in positions in power, and no one knew who they were. In the whole State of California, over 300 predators were identified for the first time. Now, what happens is that employers and neighbors are put on notice that they have a sex offender working there, or living nearby.
We've got generations of kids, who are now adults, in their 30's, 40's and 50's, and even 60's and 70's, who are capable of exposing their perpetrators ... and we want the chance to.
We're not asking to lighten the burden of proof.
We're not asking to set aside any rules of evidence.
We understand the burden is completely on us.
But, we believe that we'd like the chance. All we're asking for, is more time, and to have the courts, and our civil laws, to recognize that the psychological damage done to children prohibits us from being able to come forward until we're well into adulthood. So, we've got generations of kids who are now adults, like me ...who are capable, and ready, and want to expose our predators, and want our day in court ... and all we're asking for, is that opportunity.
In Delaware, where the Bill did pass, what happened is one family made this happen. A victim that'd been abused told his mom and dad, his parents agreed to help him, they went to a lawmaker ... and [Editor's note: note following sentence] I could put you in touch with this family if you wanted to talk to them ...they talked to lawmakers, they found someone to sponsor their Bill. The support is bi-partisan, both Democrats and Republicans ...everybody wants to protect kids.Jeff (continued) ~
[AA] Jeff, to the extent that the Vatican is sovereign country, does that give them perhaps some cards up their sleeves in moving people around, internationally?
[J] Yes. Absolutely. The Vatican establishes protocols for every Superior and Bishop across the world. One of the protocols is, avoid scandal. To avoid scandal, they keep these secrets. And, they keep secrets filed in what they call, ‘subsecretial' files under Canon 49 ... they're required to. The bottom line is, the problem emanates from the Vatican, historically ...because they make their own rules and operate above the law.
Suing the Vatican, is a legal impediment. However, I sued them in St. Petersburg Florida. I sued them in Portland Oregon at the same time.
The St. Petersburg case settled.
The Portland Oregon case, I got a ruling from the Federal District Court judge, Amasman, where he ruled the immunity, the sovereign immunity of the Vatican as a country ... does not apply when you make the showing that I was able to make ...that there was an international movement of this Irish priest from Ireland, to Chicago, to Portland.
As a result, the Vatican took immediate appeal, and that case is now in the 9th District Court of Appeals. No doubt, they will rule sometime. Whichever way they rule, for or against us ... right now, the trial court ruled in our favor ... and they said, You can sue the Vatican. The Sporn<sp?> Sovereign Immunities Act that gives them a shield, doesn't apply ... there are certain exceptions ...this in one of them, because it involves international conspiracy, and therefore the sovereign status shield doesn't apply.
The case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That case is, ‘Dole vs. The Holy See'. All the briefs were just filed, and a press release is going out on that tomorrow.
So, the sovereign status of the Vatican is an impediment, it has been an impediment. I see that case, if it breaks-thru and makes a crack in what I call ‘the clerical armor' the Vatican has lived behind as a sword and a shield, for decades, if not centuries.
It is the first crack in the armor.