City, News, Politics

Bay State considers stricter sexual assault laws

The Massachusetts Judiciary Committee debated stricter laws for sex offenders, child pornographers and rapists at the Statehouse on Tuesday.

Of the numerous bills read, one dealt with the Protection from Sexual Predators Act of 2011, which would eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases.

The Protection from Sexual Predators Act, sponsored by Rep. Ronald Mariano, of Quincy, would give more rights to victims of sexual assault in court.

“This bill is about protecting children and allowing people to heal,” said sexual abuse attorney Mitchell Garabedian. “There is no statute of limitations on murder trials— there should be none in childhood sexual abuse cases, for these cases cause murder in the heart and soul of a child.”

Eunice White, a mother of a sexual assault victim who was sexually abused by a priest 31 years ago, pleaded with the committee for the creation of stricter laws.

“Thirty-one years ago you couldn’t prosecute,” White said. “Back then no one knew what pedophilia was…you have to give us a fair fight. It is time to open your heart.”

Gov. Deval Patrick’s bill proposes the creation of stricter laws and an update to the sexual predators list to comply with the national Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. The Adam Walsh act protects children from sexual exploitation and child abuse and promotes Internet safety, according to its site.

Patrick’s bill received little support as many said that it was unconstitutional. Committee chair Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty, of Chelsea, said that Patrick had filed parts of the bill that violated the Mass. constitution.

Larni Levy, the director of alternative commitment and registration support unit for the Committee of Public Council Services, said the bill is “not a good public safety bill.”

“It is administratively unfeasible for our police,” Levy said.

“Anyone who says that Mass. is soft on sexual offenders is woefully ignorant of the law,” Levy added.

However, other state representatives and senators sided with Patrick and are in support of bills aimed to strengthen laws dealing with sexual assault.

“It is our duty to protect the children who cannot protect themselves,” said Rep. Donald Wong, of Saugus. “Some people say give compassion to the criminal. I say, give compassion to the victim.”

4 Comments

  1. As priest AND victim of clergy sexual abuse I strongly encourage all lawmakers to revise their state’s laws on child abuse. While I come from Massachusetts originally I am currently in Virginia. Up until this past year the sttute of limitations (SOL) was TWO (2) years. After we testified on new legislation it was raised to TWENTY (20) years with the STRONG recommendation that it be looked at next year for UNLIMITED SOL’s.
    Many state’s laws are archaic in that they were written decades ago. What we know today is that a child abused by a “person of authority” takes 30-40 years to be able to assimilate what had happened to them, realize that it was a crime and be able to start talking about it.
    If you do not know a victim of child/vulnerable adult sexual abuse, please take the time to view http://www.vimeo.com/13900438 — This is a cableshow three of us (victims) produced to reach out to other victims AND to teach non-victims how abuse changes a person from an “innocent child” to a VERY cautious individual.

  2. First off: The statute of limitations is not retroactive. The Supreme Court ruled that in a California case some years ago.

    How can a person defend themselves from an accusation that is 20 or 30 or more years old? An accusation that ONLY requires the testimony of the “victim” to convict.

    Can you see how convenient and easy it would be to get rid of your enemies?

    There is a lot of shame and isolation that goes with sexual abuse.

    Let us look at the ABUSE of abuse laws. Ole Mass STILL has people in prison from the 1980’s and the daycare fiasco. Remember that? Small children were making accusations of ritual killings, the most violent of sexual abuse and NOBODY had any evidence except the leading testimony of children prompted by “therapists.”

    And then let’s not forget the repressed memories in the early 90’s. YES, people went to trial after a so-called victims went to psychologists and the psychologist determined their whole problem was sexual abuse, and if they could just remember it, and confront it, THEN everything would be good. And all was needed was a little hypnosis.

    Get rid of all the protections afforded the accused and you will have LOTS of innocent convictions. But hey! It isn’t about the innocent, it is about the guilty. A few innocents mean NOTHING in America. It is just a matter of time when a victim doesn’t even have to face the offender in a court of law because it will be too traumatic.

    I know everyone who ever was accused are guilty. I know everyone in prison is guilty. I know if you weaken the protections, that still everyone will be guilty; UNTIL they are NOT.

    • You are protecting the pedophille.If you are not guilty you will not be accussed. Child rapist feed on the fact that the child will not be believed & the masses can’t comprehend the subject never mind prosecute them. The laws have failed to protect. At the cost of abused masses the few & very untrue accusations that are false is what we live with. There are those who still believe the Holocaust did not happenExamin your own beliefs.
      I was there in those rooms while my classmates & I were raped! If your grandson was raped in first grade you would do anything in your power to help him.

  3. As a survivor of clergy abuse, I live with the devastating effects of the abuse too numerous to list but I can tell you we cannot move forward until the SOL is lifted. No child makes this stuff up. If you watched Oprah Winfrey’s interview with child molesters, one molester disclosed that you must believe a child if they disclose abuse because no child can make this stuff up. Another molester admitted that he killed what his victim could have been. It is time to stop protecting the pedophile. Who is standing in the way of the Massachusetts bill so it won’t come to committee for a vote? This needs investigating. Child sexual abuse is hard to realize for the average person because it is done in secrecy and you have not seen it with your eyes. I lived it at the hands of a Monsignour from St. Anthonys in New Bedford, Mass. It was dark and ugly. I call for change. I was in first grade & I was being raped & traumatized when I could have been learning my a b c ‘s and that was my experience. Terror instead of a first grade school experience. I am victimized again. SOL reform will move us forward. Memory is truth. Pedophiles cannot be cured. They must be stopped..