There is zero doubt in my mind that Jerry Sandusky is guilty, that the higher ups at Penn State knew Jerry Sandusky was a pedophile back in 1999 when they fired him, and that had they acted properly to stop the monster in their midst, other children would not have been molested within the last 10 years. Some are calling for Sandusky to plead guilty now, because the evidence is so damning. But I’m glad Sandusky had the arrogance to plead not guilty. We needed to hear the facts of this case, in the voices of the actual victims of the crime. And now that we have heard the testimony, we have the responsibility to do something to prevent future Jerry Sanduskys from molesting our kids. If we ignore what we are hearing and go back to business as usual once the verdict is read, then we bear the same guilt and responsibility that Penn State will surely face.
Would you agree that molesting a child is perhaps the most heinous and deranged of crimes? Yet shockingly our society actually protects child molesters, in many states giving them the sanctuary of a mere five year statute of limitations for their evil acts. That means that if you were a kid, you have until the age of 23 to formally accuse your molester, or else he is home free. On the other hand, if you murder someone, there is no statute of limitations, because we have decided that it is irrelevant if the murder occurred 4 or 40 years ago, as long as the evidence can prove the case.
Yet there are even more compelling reasons to remove the statute of limitations from crimes of pedophilia, because of what we know about these crimes.
We know that in the vast majority of cases, pedophiles will continue to seduce and attack their prey as long as they breathe. Most are incapable of rehabilitation.
We know that victims of childhood sexual abuse are irrevocably damaged, even with tremendous amounts of therapy and time.
We know that 93 percent of all crimes of child sexual abuse are cases in which the molester is a friend of the family or family member.
We know that because of the familiarity of the perpetrator and the shameful nature of the abuse, most victims cannot face their accusers until they have put time, distance and maturity between the experience itself and the accusation.
Surely, these are reasons enough to lengthen, if not eliminate, the state of limitations in crimes of childhood sexual abuse.
This week the Boy Scouts of America unearthed a file of 20 years’ worth of written records detailing the acts of pedophiles in the organization. They did this only after fighting and losing a battle in court. The Catholic Church has paid close to $2.5 billion dollars in damages thus far, but only after fighting tooth and nail not to. Yesterday a jury awarded the largest verdict ever in a sexual molestation case against The Jehovah’s Witness Church, 28 million bucks. Institutions like these and Penn State are spending millions of dollars in legal fees and on public relations firms to fight cases, and fight those who would change the law to lengthen these statutes. They are understandably worried about the financial damage that will ensue because of their negligence in harboring and enabling these monsters.
But I am not interested in protecting rich institutions whose cultures need to be changed anyway. I want to see justice on behalf of children. I want to see child molesters locked up in jail. Let the floodgates open, let all who can prove they were victimized come forth to shout “j’accuse”. The last obstacle these people need in life is a statute of limitations. Remember the victims of Jerry Sandusky, and let this case create something good out of something terribly, terribly evil.