August 30, 2014

Victims of abuse by priests respond to task force’s recommendations to legislature (AUDIO)

SNAP — Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — says the Task Force to prevent child sex abuse did a good job of compiling recommendations for the legislature to modify existing statute to make it safer in Missouri for children.

However, it says one key measure was left off the list of 22 recommendations.

“Getting rid of the criminal statute of limitations is a good start,” the group says, “but the civil statute should be gotten rid of, too.”

SNAP says victims themselves have the greatest knowledge of the crimes and the greatest incentives to prevent more of them, so “predator-friendly laws that keep victims from exposing criminals” in civil court should be revoked.

Outreach Director of SNAP Barbara Dorris says most child sex abuse victims don’t start to deal with their abuse until they’re in their 40s, meaning the statute of limitations for seeking justice is typically long past.

“Criminal statutes can’t look backwards, but civil statutes can,” Dorris says. “And so the goal of the civil statute would be to let victims seek justice, warn communities and protect kids.”

SNAP says it is very grateful to the task force who devoted hundreds of hours to this crucial task, but says it will be even more grateful if lawmakers act on the recommendations.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:14)

View the full report compiled by the task force HERE.

Here’s a list of the recommendations:

1: Community-based child abuse prevention education needs to be expanded and be comprehensive in nature.

2: All schools and youth-serving organizations should have specific child sexual abuse prevention policies.

3: Existing state child abuse prevention programs should include programing targeted at preventing child sexual abuse.

4: Expand home-visiting programs and specifically include child sexual abuse prevention in these programs.

5: Create and implement standardized training for all mandated reporters.

6: Fund the creation and implementation of standardized, discipline-specific training for members of the multi- disciplinary team (MDT) and judges.

7: Identify and fund discipline-specific expert technical assistance for MDT members.

8: Establish discipline-specific best practices or standards for multi-disciplinary teams, law enforcement, prosecutors and medical providers.

9: Establish mechanisms for addressing the secondary trauma experienced by individuals who work to address and prevent child sexual abuse.

10: Assess for and address domestic violence when investigating child sexual abuse and providing services to victims and caregivers.

11: Identify and fund evidence-based early intervention and treatment for youth with illegal/inappropriate sexual behaviors.

12: Identify and fund the expansion of mental health services to children who have been sexually abused.

13: Create and fund a child sexual abuse public awareness campaign.

14: The General Assembly should consider increased investment in preventing child sexual abuse in order to reduce the substantial financial, health and social costs associated with childhood trauma.

15: Private foundations in Missouri should increase funding to prevent and address childhood trauma.

16: Submit to Missouri voters a proposed constitutional amendment allowing evidence of signature crimes, commonly referred to as propensity evidence, to be used in child sexual abuse cases.

17: Modify 210.115 RSMo. to require mandatory reporters to directly report suspected child abuse and neglect to Children’s Division.

18: Clarify the term “immediately” in the mandatory reporting statute, 210.115 RSMo., and school reporting statute, 167.117 RSMo.

19: Clarify 544.250 RSMo. and 544.280 RSMo. to allow for hearsay evidence at preliminary hearings.

20: Amend 491.075.1 RSMo. to clarify that the statute allows for the use of child witness statements relative to prosecutions under Section 575.270.

21: Modify the definition of deviate sexual intercourse in 566.010 RSMo. to include genital to genital contact.

22: Modify 556.037 RSMo. to eliminate the statute of limitations for the prosecutions of first-degree statutory rape and first-degree statutory sodomy.