More Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Clergy abuse; rape culture; Christian Supremacy; secondary trauma.]

Laurie Goodstein and Erik Eckholm in the New York TimesChurch Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits:
While the first criminal trial of a Roman Catholic church official accused of covering up child sexual abuse has drawn national attention to Philadelphia, the church has been quietly engaged in equally consequential battles over abuse, not in courtrooms but in state legislatures around the country.

The fights concern proposals to loosen statutes of limitations, which impose deadlines on when victims can bring civil suits or prosecutors can press charges. These time limits, set state by state, have held down the number of criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits against all kinds of people accused of child abuse — not just clergy members, but also teachers, youth counselors and family members accused of incest.

Victims and their advocates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York are pushing legislators to lengthen the limits or abolish them altogether, and to open temporary "windows" during which victims can file lawsuits no matter how long after the alleged abuse occurred.

The Catholic Church has successfully beaten back such proposals in many states, arguing that it is difficult to get reliable evidence when decades have passed and that the changes seem more aimed at bankrupting the church than easing the pain of victims.
Right. And there's no bigger victim than the poor Catholic Church. Victimized by survivors of sexual violence. Victimized by "homosexual priests." Victimized by the media. Victimized by gossips. The list goes on and on, but naturally never includes the Church's leadership who shielded and abetted rapists, thus ensuring multitudinous victims.
Already reeling from about $2.5 billion spent on legal fees, settlements and prevention programs relating to child sexual abuse, the church has fought especially hard against the window laws, which it sees as an open-ended and unfair exposure for accusations from the distant past. In at least two states, Colorado and New York, the church even hired high-priced lobbying and public relations firms to supplement its own efforts. Colorado parishes handed out postcards for churchgoers to send to their representatives, while in Ohio, bishops themselves pressed legislators to water down a bill.

The outcome of these legislative battles could have far greater consequences for the prosecution of child molesters, compensation of victims and financial health of some Catholic dioceses, legal experts say, than the trial of a church official in Philadelphia, where the jury is currently deliberating.
The Catholic Church is so invested in protecting itself from accountability that it is willing to fight state laws that would empower other survivors of sexual abuse.

Truly despicable.

The denial of justice in sexual assault cases reverberates in terrible ways. Rapists not held accountable continue to rape, thus creating more victims. And survivors are left to feel like their victimization does not matter. That is a great burden to carry, to be a survivor of sexual violence to whom indifference about that shattering breach of agency and safety is communicated in the most contemptuous, self-serving way.

The Catholic Church is trying to make the victims of its employees live as though nothing ever happened to them, or that what happened to them didn't matter, or that by speaking out and seeking accountability for what happened to them, it is they, the survivors, who are bringing ruination to the Church and its reputation (and coffers). This is a profound betrayal—and it a secondary trauma survivors are obliged to weather.

To fail once is shameful. To fail again, in protecting predators, is unforgivable. To fail yet once more, in revictimizing survivors, is an act of such deliberate cruelty I cannot comprehend the cavernous indecency underlying its corrupt instinct.

[Commenting Guidelines: Please take the time to make sure any criticisms are clearly directed at the Catholic Church leadership and not at "Catholics," many of whom are themselves critical of the failures of Church leadership.]

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