No one can say that Margaret M. Markey hasn’t tried.
The New York State assemblywoman has been laboring in vain since 2006 to change the way that the Empire State has remained maddeningly negligent in facing a pressing need, articulated last May by the Queens Borough Democrat
Last spring she wrote to constituents:
“I held a series of informational events in Albany earlier this year to bring to the attention of Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and my colleagues in the Legislature to the wide-ranging problem of child sexual abuse in society.
“We looked at the recent revelations in the world of sports and learned about abuse in schools and institutions. We heard one of the state’s leading prosecutors speak about how current statutes of limitations in New York State need to be changed in order to bring justice to victims.
Editor’s note: This editorial, written by the Anniston Star in Anniston, Alabama, is one of the best editorials we’ve seen on the need for safety reforms in the Boy Scouts of America.
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Oct 22, 2012
The Boy Scouts of America own a quality reputation forged by decades of teaching, mentoring and training young American males.
Last week’s shocking news — that Scout leaders kept thousands of pages of “perversion files” about accusations of sexual abuse of young Scouts — has sullied the BSA’s reputation and forced BSA leaders to address nearly a century of inexcusable actions.
Claims that pedophiles are predominantly homosexual or that homosexuality leads to child molestation are scarcely new. They continue courtesy of, among others, the hierarchy of the Boy Scouts of America, an organization with rampant documentation of pedophilia among its past and present leadership.
Contradicting a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia also is nothing new. Indeed, one of the most compelling studies debunking a causal relationship between same-sex preference and sex crimes against children is from oft-cited scientific research published in 1994 in “Pediatrics.” The latter is the official journal of the American Society of Pediatrics.
Members of my law firm would be less than candid if we said we aren’t pleased with the publicity our work has recently won. This isn’t so much because of any benefit the media coverage has brought to us. It’s about the nature of the work we do: defending child victims of sexual predators.
From years of representing abuse victims, I’ve learned that the media spotlight is nearly always welcome. That’s because the press spells out the horrors of sexual abuse and the often egregious enabling on the part of institutions. And the court of public opinion demands change. We saw it in 2002 when the Boston Globe uncovered wide-spread sexual abuse by priests within the Archdiocese of Boston. In the ensuing decade, similar cases came to light nationwide. We saw it this year with Penn State. And now we’re likely to see the public demanding improved safety measures from the Boy Scouts of America. The media interest in recent days promises to give victims ever greater impetus to come forward and join the battle against pedophiles, so many of whom continue to function undiscovered and unpunished.
A great value of contemporary journalism and published commentary is that technology has made it easy for readers to offer instant responses. These modern-day letters to the editor often are as revealing as the writing that prompted them. A Sept. 10 New York Times op-ed piece, for example, by staff columnist Frank Bruni, is interesting not just for its substance but also for the readers’ reactions (there were about 150 at last glance).
Bruni cites a pair of high-profile cases of child sex predators. One, inevitably, is the infamous Jerry Sandusky.
Decades of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is a grim reality for untold thousands of victims and a source of disgust for non-victims. It would be difficult to find anyone unaware of these cases and the resulting media coverage.
But another kind of malfeasance by Catholic church officials is less well known. It’s the topic of an investigation by the highly regarded periodical The Economist. In a recent issue of the London-based magazine (paper and online), the reporting is largely concerned with the ways Catholic officials have finagled church finances in order to seem poorer when court settlements are at hand.
Those who are willing to ponder the consequences of sex abuse crimes committed by adults against children should have been with me during a recent prison visit in Montana. I was there to interview a potential client. I’ve spent a career in the company of both victims and those accused of crimes. I ask the reader to contemplate just briefly what it can be like meeting with a man convicted of two murders. For privacy reasons, I’ll call him “Robert,” not his real name.
Child abuse occurs in epidemic proportions nationwide and across the globe. In the U.S. alone, one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their eighteenth birthdays, according to Darkness to Light, a national child sexual abuse prevention organization.