The sexual abuse of a minor is a terrible crime against the victim and all of society. Often, the people who commit these kinds of crimes are close to the victim's family or are people in positions of authority over the victim, like a coach, babysitter or teacher.
Attorney Jeffrey P. Fritz settled a lawsuit on the fifth day of trial against the Jehovah's Witness Church for a sexual abuse cover-up involving two members of the Spring Grove, PA congregation. Mr. Fritz represented a minor that was sexually assaulted over the course of two years, even after the parents of the minor alerted the church elders. The church elders did not contact the authorities. This lawsuit exposed some very troubling policies practiced by the Jehovah's Witness Church regarding mandatory reporting laws in Pennsylvania. Read more.
Bruce Castor, the District Attorney of Montgomery County from 2000 - 2008 and the current 1st Solicitor General of Pennsylvania, is scheduled to testify next week during a Senate hearing. This Senate hearing is being held before the Judiciary Committee to examine the constitutionality of a proposed bill that would extend the window through which survivors of child sexual-abuse can seek damages. The bill has already been passed in the state House by a vote of 180 - 15. Read more.
Earlier this month, we wrote about efforts in Pennsylvania to change statute-of-limitations laws in cases related to child sex abuse. The problem with current laws is that they are inconsistent with how victims commonly process their abuse.
In early 2013, a Franciscan friar committed suicide in the Pennsylvania monastery where he had been living. The friar, a man named Stephen Baker, had been accused of sexually molesting dozens of children in several states, and the list of accusers was getting longer by the day. If he had acted alone, Baker's suicide might have been the unfortunate end to an already devastating story.
One of the reasons that the movie "Spotlight" has resonated so deeply with the public is that the story is a familiar one. The abuse and cover-ups that took place in the Boston area are strikingly similar to cases that occurred all around the United States, including in Pennsylvania.
The ability to interact with others while remaining anonymous is important in a number of settings. Those seeking help with alcohol or drug addiction recognized the importance of anonymity decades ago. Many other support groups have since adopted similar policies.
Several of our recent posts have discussed the critically acclaimed movie "Spotlight," which tells the true story of Boston Globe reporters who brought international attention to the problem of clergy sexual abuse. The reaction (to the movie) from the public has been overwhelmingly positive. But among leaders within the Catholic Church, reactions have been mixed. Some stubbornly continue to prioritize the church's reputation over its accountability.
Our brains are hardwired to remember fear. This serves an important evolutionary purpose: We need to remember dangerous situations so we can avoid them later. For most people, this hardwiring is not a burden.
Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the movie "Spotlight," which has earned numerous accolades and is nominated for several Oscars. It tells the story of a small group of reporters from the Boston Globe who publicly exposed one of the Catholic Church's biggest and darkest secrets. Institutional complicity was a major theme of the movie.