After I watched the movie Spotlight, I was determined to do my part to prevent child sexual abuse. I was unable to imagine who would ruin a child’s life for their own selfish “pleasure.” But what was even harder to comprehend was the non-abusers who rally around to protect the abuser. It is not unique to the Catholic Church, but when groups turn their back on the abused children and decide to protect the institution over the victims, they need to be charged with a crime and the organizations need to be held accountable.
It is shocking to see how often individuals and institutions are on the wrong side of this issue, but it is more common than you think.
Take Larry Nassar…one lone predator, who because of the inaction of the USA Gymnastics Association and Michigan State University, was able to victimize girls from 1992 until 2015. Had the institutions intervened in 1992 when accusations started, the abuse of about 250 girls may have been prevented.
The same thing happened with Jerry Sandusky and Penn State, The Boy Scouts of America and the “pervert files,” The Catholic Church and the priest scandals that occurred for decades. To this day, there is a not-for-profit that acts as a mobile response team to protect priests who are accused of sexual abuse; whether they are guilty or not is immaterial to this tax-exempt organization. They provide financial and legal support to the alleged perpetrator and nothing for the actual victims. If these groups acted in a responsible way at the first signs of misconduct, the number of victims would have been reduced significantly. Instead, these abusers had unlimited and unrestricted access to their victims, while people turn a blind eye to avoid scandal or embarrassment. Most victims still report trauma to this day from the abuse and from the knowledge that nobody cared enough about them to intervene.
In my opinion, these passive bystanders are co-conspirators, and they must face criminal charges. Also, these organizations, due to their failure to report crimes, must lose their tax- exempt status and pay criminal fines to the government in addition to the civil settlements to the victims.
If the government does these simple things, the problem won’t go away, but things would improve quickly.
Check out the Focus for Health billboard displayed in
South Orange, NJ and Atlanta, Georgia