The Next Frontier of Scholarly Study: Sexual Abuse in Puerto Rico

By TIM KOSNOFF

We often broach the notion of statutes of limitation, typically within the context of how such time constraints serve the purposes of certain pedophiles and hinder the ability of the abused to seek damages in civil litigation.

Let’s look at the notion of time limits in a different way and ask rhetorically: Is there a built-in time period after which the effects on the victim miraculously just disappear?
Common sense tells us such a supposition is ridiculous. Anecdotal evidence continually reveals to those of us who litigate against accused abusers that the devastating effects on victims can linger for entire lifetimes.

An ongoing scholarly study seems to show precisely how observable the damage to victims can be. It’s being conducted among subjects in Puerto Rico: interesting given that the Caribbean island probably isn’t the first place many think of when the topic of child sexual abuse is brought up. Here, then, from a 2011 article in the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times, is a refresher:

“SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico  — A lawsuit filed Monday in a Puerto Rico court accuses a St. John’s Abbey [a Minnesota institution] monk of sexually abusing a teenager in 1978 at a boarding school in [the Puerto Rican city of] Humacao.
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The Sad, But All Too Familiar Fact in Abuse Cases: Pedophiles are Often ‘Trusted,’ Well Known by Survivors and Relatives

By DAN FASY

A recent pair of links we posted on our Facebook page inadvertently demonstrate something of a range of ways the scourge of child sexual abuse is revealed to the public.

One is a news story about the aunt of an alleged victim discovering references to abuse incidents on her niece’s Facebook page. The allegations indicate that the predator is another member of the extended Indianapolis family.
If so, the case would jibe with several familiar patterns. One is the high likelihood that the pedophile would be well known by the victim — would, in fact, likely be a family member. Another is that the alleged victim waited, in this case about two years, before revealing what she remembers. Yet another is the implicit reluctance of the victim to more overtly come forward and charge the perpetrator.

One certainly can understand the reluctance. Imagine the feeling of powerlessness of, in this instance, a 13-year-old girl. She’s already been forced by circumstances to process what she claims are two cases of molestation. Then she has to summon the emotional wherewithal to come forward in some fashion and, in effect, let the world know what happened.

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