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Crime Victim Law Blog

Changing the statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims

Society’s understanding of child sexual abuse is evolving. We now know that abuse can happen in even the most trusted communities, places where, for a long time, we believed children were safe from harm. We also know that the effects of abuse can last a lifetime, impacting a victim in ways both big and small.

Some survivors have had the opportunity to bravely stand up, tell their story and bring the abuser to justice. But others are being forced to remain silent – in part due to outdated laws.

Listen carefully to what your children aren't saying

As a parent, you dedicate yourself to protecting your children. From the time they are young, you teach your kids not to talk to strangers, comfort them when someone bullies them and kiss their owies when they get hurt playing.

When it comes to leaving your children in the care of another adult, you choose wisely - allowing only people you trust to be alone with your kids. But no matter how hard you try to do what is right for your children, you could unknowingly put them in harm's way. But how do you recognize the signs of abuse?

Sexual assaults skyrocket at military academies

An increase in sexual assaults on military academy campuses underscores two disturbing trends:

  • The number of sexual assaults officially reported rose from 112 to 117 cases. While only a slight increase, it is unfortunate that efforts to curb sexual assaults have not yet met with success. 
  • It appears fewer students are willing to come forward about experiencing sexual assault. Cadets and midshipmen are worried about whether reporting incidences of sexual assault may harm their careers.

Former Grove City College employee pleads guilty to sexual abuse

A former employee of Grove City College in Pennsylvania pleaded guilty Jan. 8 to one count of sexual abuse of children and 11 counts of invasion of privacy. According to a local news report, Robert Audia is accused of taking dozens of photos and videos with his cell phone in the school’s locker room while he was the college’s assistant sports information director.

Many of the photos are reportedly of undressed students. However, local media reported that coaches, alumni and staff also make up some of the 76 police-identified victims. Originally, Audia faced about 100 criminal counts, with charges ranging from possession of child pornography, sexual abuse of children, invasion of privacy and tampering with evidence. Media reports indicate that all of the victims who were able to be identified were notified before the initial hearing, and none of the videos or images found on Audia’s electronic devices were posted on the internet.

MSU now making attempts to help victims of sexual assault

To better meet the needs of sexual abuse and assault victims on campus, Michigan State University is developing a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. Specially-trained nurses will be available as a first point of contact for students and staff who have experienced trauma.

Recognizing the need for improvement

Drum Corps International fails to protect students

Drum Corps International ("DCI") has been under scrutiny for its lax hiring policies and procedures that it places on participating organizations across the United States.

A recent Philadelphia Inquirer article exposed that elite drum corps are a haven for instructors with sexual misconduct in their past. In fact, DCI did not require drum corps to perform background checks on their staff and volunteers until 2017. Common sense dictates background checks should be required on anyone working with children.

The Catholic Church's own lists of accused clergy is shocking

The sexual abuse and misconduct scandal in the Catholic Church has been well-reported. But the number of priests and clergy accused of sexual misconduct was still greatly underestimated.

Now, lists of accused clergy are being released and the names are starting to become public. There are many more Church officials caught up in the scandal than was previously assumed to be the case.

North Charleston Church Volunteer Arrested for Sexually Abusing a Child

Today, it was reported that Jacop Robert Lee Hazlett was arrested for sexually abusing a child while volunteering as a chaperone at NewSprings Church in North Charleston, South Carolina. Hazlett, 28, was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Women religious urge reporting and action on sexual abuse

The Catholic Church has been under significant scrutiny for its protection of serial sexual abusers for decades.

Now, perhaps prompted by social movements and revelations of the extent to which the Church has allowed abuse to occur, The International Union of Superiors General has spoken out against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and its historical tradition of secrecy and silence. The organization, which includes half a million Sisters across the world, urged their own members to report sexual abuse and help victims to report abuse and seek justice. In the statement, UISG pledges to help any women religious who has suffered abuse to "be a listening presence" and do what they can to help the woman bring the complaint to appropriate organizations, including law enforcement agencies.

The fight to protect negligent organizations continues

There are some who believe that the fight to hold organizations like the Catholic Church accountable for covering up sexual abuse has been won. In the face of almost universal public condemnation for those who enable child sexual abuse, it can seem unimaginable that there could be another side. Sadly, the same organizations who covered up the deplorable abuse of their members have continued the fight to deny victims any measure of justice. The fight has simply moved to whether victims deserve compensation, and from whom.

Lobbying for injustice

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