What we can learn from recent high-profile sex abuse cases
by Margaret Markey
Jan 04, 2012 | 8509 views | 9 9 comments | 101 101 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Details continue to unfold about the shocking scandals over allegations of child sexual abuse and coverup at Penn State University and at Syracuse University here in New York.

Shocking as these cases are, the rape and sexual abuse of children is sadly a national epidemic. The statistics about this national plague are startling:

• 20 percent of America’s children suffer sexual abuse, according to the National Institute of Justice;

• Of those, 56 percent suffer their abuse at the hands of family members or other people they trust and respect; and

• Only 10 percent of predators are ever exposed

Since these crimes don’t usually get the sustained headlines as we are experiencing recently, it seems to me that this may be one of those “teachable moments” about this scourge as we look at the parallels between revelations from Syracuse and PSU. Here are five lessons we can draw from today’s headlines:

Abusers Exploit A Power Relationship - People who abuse kids have a power relationship with their victims. They are often family members, family friends or relatives, but are also coaches, religious leaders, doctors, and youth workers. One thing all abusers have in common is that they hold a position of influence and trust in the life of a child and use that power to violate that trust.

Reputation Is Place Ahead Of Kids – There is a tendency for leaders of organizations to protect their institution first when instances of abuse arise. What happened at Syracuse and Penn State is no different than the practices we have seen repeatedly exposed over the past decade in religious communities like the Catholic Church, in Scouting, other youth organizations, and within families. When officers and leaders fail to report credible allegations of these crimes, the real damage they do is to children who are the victims.

Abusers Continue Their Crimes – When an institution fails to report an incident of abuse to law enforcement, the pedophile not only avoids punishment, but is free to continue to prey on more victims. Experts say the average pedophile has more than 100 victims in a lifetime. As we see in both the Syracuse and Penn State cases, once a victim speaks up, others who were abused by the same predator also find the courage to come forward, too.

Pedophiles Count On Delay - Victims usually take a long time to come forward and report what happened to them, often well into adulthood. Mental health experts say only ten percent of those abused ever come forward at all. That means most perpetrators - and those who helped hide them - are never publicly exposed. We need to do more to make parents and the public aware of the signs of child sexual abuse. We also need to improve how we handle allegations of abuse within organizations and institutions and at law enforcement agencies so that abusers can be identified and stopped.

New York's Law Are Extremely Lax - Laws about reporting abuse vary from state to state, and so do criminal and civil statutes of limitations. In New York, they are so unreasonably short that many perpetrators are able to evade exposure by simply waiting out the statute of limitations - and meanwhile they are free to continue to abuse more children. Despite our lax laws, New Yorkers have had to go to other states to get justice. One victim of abuse by a coach from a Queens parochial high school saw his abuser found guilty in Boston; eight victims of an Albany-area priest saw their abuser sentenced to jail when they took their case to Berkshire County, MA.

My Child Victims Act (A5488) will extend the existing criminal and civil statute of limitations for these crimes in New York State. It will also create a civil “window” to completely suspend the statute for one year. This “window” will help expose those who are guilty of earlier crimes by identifying previously hidden abusers through the discovery process in court. Criminals who thought they had evaded justice will be identified and society can ensure they can never abuse a child again.

When the extent of child sexual abuse in our society first came to my attention eight years ago, I felt rage and I still do every time I hear about yet another incident of rape or a sexual crime against a child. For this latest round of scandals to truly be a teachable moment, I think it is important for all of us to express a lot of rage and then do something about it.

What I am doing is trying to make the Child Victims Act of New York become state law, and as we begin a new year and a new legislative session I hope everyone who cares about our children will support it.

Margaret Markey represents the 30th District in the State Assembly. Her Child Victims Act has been adopted three times in the Assembly but has not been brought to the floor of the State Senate.
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William Berns
January 13, 2012
I said it once and I hope our law makers hear it 12 million times. STOP KNEELING FOR THE CHURCH AND STAND UP FOR VICTIMS OF ABUSE. Our law makers need to be marked by their decision not to support our victims of abuse no mattter what. Hopefully we can unite.

I appreciate the previous comment pointing out our laws inconsitencies, thank you! Please think about Uniting under one name of United Sexual Abuse Warriors. Contact me williamberns@aol.com Thank you for being part of the fight for whats right!
J. McDonagh
January 12, 2012
Assemblywoman Markey's Bill, the Child Victims' Act, will go a long way to rectify several inconsistencies & injustices:

1) In 2006, NY State ended the Statue of Limitations entirely for rape. Most of the legislators who voted in favor of this law are still in the legislature. At that time, they did not object to "faded memories" or lost evidence. They allowed the courts to evaluate memories & evidence, as is their role.

2) New York's neighboring States give far greater opportunity to survivors to have their day in court. New York requires survivors to begin litigation before they turn 23. Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania allow them to proceed into their forties. Many survivors of sexual abuse are too emotionally damaged to initiate legal cases before age 23. In NY, the deck is stacked against them.

So why do we force victims of sexual abuse in New York to have fewer rights than victims of rape, and fewer rights than childhood victims in neighboring States ? The current law is inconsistent, unfair and antiquated.
William Berns
January 12, 2012
I am very grateful for those who have come before me and started raising the awareness of sexual abuse within the Church. Unfortunately most people are percieving this as a Survivors vs Church issue. Apparently by most of the comments posted it is still going to be percieved that way.

I do not see much hope for this bill unless people are made aware this a much greater societal issue. National Orginization of Women needs to look at this and support it. I am not looking to minamize anyone. I was abused by a public school official for years I am well aware of abuse and the effect it has on a persons life. I was abused from a throughout my formative years so I do understand.

Unfortunately we need to speak for the majority of the victims of abuse who actually have been abused by family or a close family friend. We need to speak for the 1 in 5 college women who will be sexually assaulted during their 4 year college experience and yet 90% say nothing.

I am thankful for what Snap has done and all the others. However, if we do not unite all victims of abuse not much will be changing in a very Catholic State like NY. Our lawmakers need to stop kneeling for the Catholic Church and stand up for all victims.

As survivors we need to move forward and start fighting. I am part of United Sexual Abuse Warriors, WANNA HELP US FIGHT? "We fight for whats Right" This new legislation is going to help and empower so many female victims of abuse. How about rape victims being able to confront their perpertrators now civily after they have healed some?

I appreciate all you have done the Survivors from the Roman Catholic Church but you only represent less than 1% of the victim. Therefore, if anyone wants to start their own United Sexual Abuse Warrior group, email me at williamberns@aol.com

Our primary purpose is to help heal and support each other in our group. Our outside interests include changing laws and raising awareness, of this national epedemic that is crushing and killing many of our young people.

We need to promote how awesome it is to be free of unwarranted shame and guilt that soley belongs on our predators and their enablers. I am free from my abuse and I want to promote that idea to other victims. United we stnd aginst abuse and we are making a change.
Bishop Pope
January 12, 2012
Stop raping God's children
Vinnie Damanti
January 12, 2012

They are very easy reads on an empty stomach !








- Manchester NH - Attorney General’s Report with investigative archive, March 3, 2003

- Boston MA - Reilly Report and Executive Summary, July 23, 2003

- Philadelphia PA - Report of the Grand Jury, September 25, 2003 (unsealed September 15, 2005; made public March 29, 2011)

- Portland ME - Attorney General’s Report, February 24, 2004. See also the attorney general's investigative materials released on May 27, 2005 and July 8, 2005.

- Philadelphia PA - Grand Jury Report, September 15, 2005

- Philadelphia PA - Report of the Grand Jury, dated January 21, 2011, released February 10, 2011; see also criminal charges


Reports of Individuals, Commissions, and Organizations

* Justice Eileen Kennedy et al., Reformatory and Industrial Schools Systems Report, commissioned by the government of the Republic of Ireland, 1970

* Conrad Baars, The Role of the Church in the Causation, Treatment and Prevention of the Crisis in the Priesthood (1971)

* Mouton, Doyle, and Peterson, The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy (1985)

* Peterson et al., Guidelines (1985)

* Gordon A. Winter et al., The Report of the Archdiocesan Commission of Enquiry into the Sexual Abuse of Children by Members of the Clergy (aka "The Winter Report"), Volume 1, Volume 2, and Conclusions and Recommendations, commissioned by Archbishop Alphonsus L. Penney of the Archdiocese of St. John's, Newfoundland, June 1990

* Samuel S.H. Hughes, Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Response of the Newfoundland Criminal Justice System to Complaints, (1991) Volume 1 and Volume 2 [about the Irish Christian Brothers and the Mount Cashel orphanage]

* Dempsey et al., The Bernardin Report (1992)

* Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, From Pain to Hope (1992)

* Stearns et al., St. Anthony's Seminary Report (1993)

* Bishop John F. Kinney and the Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, Restoring Trust: A Pastoral Response to Sexual Abuse, Volume I (Washington, D.C.: National Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 1994).

* Bishop John F. Kinney and the Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, Restoring Trust: A Pastoral Response to Sexual Abuse, Volume II (Washington, D.C.: National Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 1995).

* A.W. Richard Sipe, Preliminary Expert Report (1996)

* Thomas P. Doyle, Memo on Dallas Litigation: Does v. Diocese of Dallas et al. (1996)

* Bishop Laurence Forristal et al., Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response, a report of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Advisory Committee on Child Sexual Abuse by Priests and Religious (1996); see also the 1997 letter by Archbishop Luciano Storero, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland (1995-2000), regarding the Framework Document; and the 2009 Murphy report's analysis of the Framework Document

* Barbara Susan Balboni, Through the "Lens" of the Organizational Culture Perspective: A Descriptive Study of American Catholic Bishops’ Understanding of Clergy Sexual Molestation and Abuse of Children and Adolescents (1998)

* Barry M. Coldrey, Religious Life Without Integrity: The Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church (2000)

* Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, Nolan Report (2001)

* Boston MA - Archdiocesan Delegate's Annual Reports on sexual abuse, secret until Attorney General Reilly discovered them during his investigation - 1994-95, 1996-97, 1997-98, 1999-2000, 2001.

* Hannah McGee, Rebecca Garavan, Mairéad de Barra, Joanne Byrne and Ronán Conroy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland The SAVI Report: Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland (Dublin, The Liffey Press in association with Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, April 19, 2002)

* Westchester County Grand Jury Report (June 19, 2002) [New York archdiocese]

* The Holy See and the Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Shadow Report, and Executive Summary, Catholics for a Free Choice, September 2002

* A Survey of Roman Catholic Priests in the United States and Puerto Rico, conducted by the LA Times Poll (June 27 through October 11, 2002)

* Suffolk County Grand Jury Report, (February 10, 2003) [Rockville Centre NY diocese]

* Attorney General’s Report with investigative archive, March 3, 2003 [Manchester NH diocese]

* Diocesan Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policy, Manchester Diocesan Task Force Report (2003)

* Reilly Report and Executive Summary, July 23, 2003 [Boston archdiocese]

* Report of the Grand Jury, September 25, 2003 (unsealed September 15, 2005; made public March 29, 2011) [Philadelphia archdiocese]

* Report of the Erwin Committee, commissioned by Roger L. Schwietz, archbishop of Anchorage AK (2003)

* Local John Jay Reports (2003-2004)

* Attorney General’s Report, February 24, 2004. See also the attorney general's investigative materials released on May 27, 2005 and July 8, 2005 [Portland ME diocese

* Karen Terry et al., The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States [a.k.a. the "John Jay Report"] (2004)

* Robert S. Bennett et al., A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States [a.k.a. the "Bennett Report"] (2004)

* Sexual Abuse in Social Context: Catholic Clergy and Other Professionals, a special report by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (2/04)

* Peter Isely and Jim Smith, The Sexual Abuse of Children in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (2/10/02)

* Grand Jury Report, September 15, 2005 [Philadelphia archdiocese]

* Ferns Report on the Irish Diocese of Ferns (October 2005)

* Karen Terry et al., The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States: Supplementary Data Analysis (March 2006)

* Kevin McCoy, Report of Dr Kevin McCoy on Western Health Board Inquiry into Brothers of Charity Services in Galway, November 2007

* Ian Elliott, Report on the Management of Two Child Protection Cases in the Diocese of Cloyne, National Safeguarding Board for Children, Catholic Church in Ireland, June 30, 2008, released December 19, 2008

* The Ryan Report on Irish Residential Institutions (May 20, 2009)

* Thomas P. Doyle, Clergy Sexual Abuse: A Bibliography of Selected Sources Related to Clergy Sexual Abuse (revised August 19, 2009)

* Judge Yvonne Murphy, Ms. Ita Mangan, and Mr. Hugh O'Neill, Commission of Investigation: Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin (November 26, 2009)

* HSE Audit of Catholic Church Dioceses, by the Health Services Executive, requested by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Republic of Ireland (January 7, 2009)

* Ursula Raue, Bericht über Fälle sexuellen Missbrauchs an Schulen und anderen Einrichtungen des Jesuitenordens (May 27, 2010) [Report on Cases of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Other Facilities of the Jesuit Order] See also a partial English translation.

* Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), Amended Final Report for the Investigatory Review of Child Abuse at New Tribes Fanda Missionary School (August 28, 2010)

* Peter Adriaenssens, Commissie voor de Behandeling van Klachten Wegens Seksueel Misbruik in Een Pastorale Relatie (September 10, 2010) [Commission for Dealing with Complaints of Sexual Abuse in a Pastoral Relationship]

* Assessment of the Human Rights Issues Arising in Relation to the "Magdalen Laundries", Irish Human Rights Commission (November 2010)

* Marion Westpfahl, Central points of the appraisal report: "Sexual and other physical assaults by priests, deacons and other pastoral workers in the field of jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising between 1945 and 2009: Fact-finding – Evaluation – Consequences" (December 2, 2010) [see also the German original of the "central points" document, and German Study Finds Systematic Cover-ups in Catholic Priest Abuse Cases, Deutsche Welle, December 3, 2010]

* Report of the Grand Jury, dated January 21, 2011, released February 10, 2011; see also criminal charges [Philadelphia archdiocese]

* Maeve O'Rourke, Submission to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, 46th Session, prepared by Justice for Magdalenes (May 2011)

* Karen Terry et al., The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 (May 18, 2011) with Errata

* Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture: Ireland, Consideration of Reports submitted by States parties under article 19 of the Convention, United Nations Committee against Torture, Forty-sixth session (May 9-June 3, 2011)

* Judge Yvonne Murphy, Ms. Ita Mangan, and Mr. Hugh O'Neill, Report into the Diocese of Cloyne, Commission of Investigation, dated December 23, 2010, released July 13, 2011. On December 19, 2011, the government released "Further Portions" of the Cloyne report, comprising Chapter 9, about "Fr Ronat", with the previously suppressed parts restored; Appendix 1, a copy of the Elliott report, annotated to indicate that "Fr B" in the Elliott report is "Fr Ronat" in the Cloyne report; and patches that restore index entries about "Fr Ronat" which had been suppressed in the Cloyne report as originally released.

* Carole Holohan, In Plain Sight: Responding to the Ferns, Ryan, Murphy and Cloyne Reports, Commissioned by Amnesty International Ireland (September 26, 2011, corrected copy as of December 7, 2011)

Reports of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC), sponsored by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland, and the Irish Missionary Union, released November 30, 2011

- See also the 2008 Elliott report on the Cloyne diocese and the linked map of Irish dioceses on the website of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference

- Ardagh and Clonmacnois diocese

- Derry diocese

- Dromore diocese

- Kilmore diocese

- Raphoe diocese

- Tuam archdiocese

* Wim Deetman, Nel Draijer, Pieter Kalbfleisch, Harald Merckelbach, Marit Monteiro, Gerard de Vries, and other contributors, Seksueel Misbruik van Minderjarigen in de Rooms-Katholieke Kerk [The Sexual Abuse of Minors within the Roman Catholic Church], commissioned by the Dutch bishops and religious orders, conducted by Onderzoekscommissie seksueel misbruik van minderjarigen binnen de Rooms Katholieke Kerk [Research Commission on the Sexual Abuse of Minors within the Roman Catholic Church], December 16, 2011

mike ference
January 11, 2012
Everything you have written is true, as an advocate for clergy sex abuse victims for over 23 years, if you don't mind, I would like to add my two cents worth.

The all-to-often common thread in many abuse cases is the willingness and in some cases insistence from law enforcement and government officials in covering up the crimes. Dirty cops don't like to investigate dirty cops or corrupt government officials. Sadly, there are too many of both, and even more sad, child sex abuse is here to stay.

My research shows that PA is a pro-pedophile state. The catholic church, state universities like Penn State and Syracuse are just like the Sicilian Mob; they all get a pass when they break the law.

I for one appreciate all of you efforts. However, more is to be gained by the power mongers from protecting the abusers, than protecting innocent children.

Mike Ference
David New Yorker
January 11, 2012
Protect Children, Not Pedophiles !

Child Sex Abuse and Rape is truly a societal problem and should have been addressed years ago. My Perpetrator and his Enablers are still out their garnering the respect of the community and have complete, unadulterated access to Innocent Children.

They belong to a very respected Institution which had been found by (2) Grand Jury Investigations(Google and read any or both these Reports), to have developed and adopted Policies to cover-up the Rape and Sexual Abuse of Innocent Children .

They along with the institution in which they work have spared no expense in their lobbying effort Against the "Child Victims Act". One of the Leaders of this Institution goes around Boisterously about how he Threatened our elected officials(Senators and Assemblymembers) to not support the Child Victims Act or else he will shut down schools in their districts and blame them.

California, Delaware, Florida have passed similar legislation. By doing so, they have EXPOSED thousands of pedophiles which previously had been able to evade detection and continued access to Innocent Children.

Our Laws at the moment here in NY, simply protect Pedophiles. It's High Time We Reconsider and Protect Innocent Children Instead!

- David
Sister Maureen Paul
January 11, 2012
New York legislator Margaret Markey is correct.

Criminal and civil statutes of Limitation having to do with childhood sexual abuse are arbitrary and discriminatory giving more protection to those of would sexually exploit children, whether parents, doctors, coaches, ministers, rabbis or priests, than to victims.


And it is obscene that bishops, including New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles Chaput still do not see the light, do not get it and thus still viciously oppose SOl REFORM.


by Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, SNDdeN


December 09, 2011

Both Pennsylvania and New York will have an uphill battle to get any legislation dealing with the sexual abuse of children discussed, let alone signed into law, regardless of what has been happening lately at Penn State, Syracuse or any other educational, religious, public or private institution.

This is especially true if Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles Chaput and New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan have anything to do with it.

Both churchmen, along with their respective state Catholic conferences, have drawn lines in the sand in their continued attempts to avoid the accountability and transparency the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agreed to in 2002 to say nothing of the right everyone has to access justice through this country's judicial process.

Especially significant are the remarks Dolan made to reporters during the November meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. Dolan, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, compared the widening sex abuse scandal at Penn State University to the decades-long crisis in the Roman Catholic Church as if the latter were a thing of the past.

Actually, the archbishop misspoke when he said the present Penn State sexual abuse scandal "over a former football coach accused of sexually abusing young boys reopens a wound for the U.S. Roman Catholic Church."

The "wound" Dolan refers to never closed. It is a "wound" that has continued to fester since the Archdiocese of Boston imploded in 2002, revealing a massive cover-up by the hierarchy.



Father M.
January 11, 2012
This is Truly Despicable !, that we even have to have this conversation.

The RCC Hierarchy(Pope, Cardinals, Bishops etc.) have silenced their good priests from ever weighing in on this horrible subject, not to mention at the very least, helping these people who were raped and scandalized as helpless innocent children. We have been threatened, blackmailed and some have been blackballed for showing any sympathy nonetheless support to those who were sexually abused as children.

My Heart Aches !

I personally have seen huge amounts of monies(millions) go to high powered Law firms, (NY)Lobbying firms, Madison Ave. P/R firms, ALL in the effort to hide this Child Sex Abuse Scandal from the public so as to protect the image of this filthy institution.

This institution has become so corrupted that it attracts the likes of people such as Mr. Bill Donohue.

It seems, things will only continue to get worse so long as this wretched hierarchy is in power.

God Save us !