English for Congress Position Paper  (February 2020)


Clerical Abuse of Children

 

Background—Because incidents of clerical abuse of minors are concealed and the perpetrators are aided and abetted by their superiors in the attempt to effort avoid justice for the victims, state law is  ineffective to identify, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators of these crimes. Efforts to obtain information about these crimes are frustrated by legal action funded by the superiors of the perpetrators to suppress evidence and extend the statues of limitations for crimes committed when their victims were minors and later came forth to seek justice for their abuse. Often, the perpetrators were knowingly and deliberately transferred to other assignments in the same diocese or out of stat and thereby enabled to continue their abuse of minors elsewhere. Civil judgments obtained for incidents settled out of court were concealed by confidentiality provisions in the damage awards and the perpetrators and their superiors thereby escaped personal culpability and prosecution for their crimes. Because clerical abuse of minors crimes are not subject to Federal criminal legislation, unlike kidnapping, the FBI and other Federal agencies are not permitted to locate and apprehend the perpetrators and their superiors that condoned that behavior and enabled them to escape justice. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has spent approximately $700 million in settlement of clerical abuse claims against children.

Proposal - National legislation which makes these crimes subject to Federal jurisdiction is the only remedy to effectively end their commission in the future by prosecuting the perpetrators and their superiors whom enable them to escape justice. Just as the drivers of getaway cars used for bank robberies are held equally culpable, bishops and others whom enable the clerical and other abusers of minors to escape justice would be similarly held culpable. National legislation similar to the Lindberg legislation to enable the FBI to intervene in the search and apprehension of kidnappers would be needed to locate and apprehend the perpetrators of sexual abuse of minors 24 hours after it is reported to local law enforcement agencies. It would also prosecute under Federal law any of their superiors or others whom enable the perpetrators to escape justice. Furthermore, any tax-exempt funds used to aid and abet the escape from justice or legal expenses during the prosecution of the perpetrators or victims compensation for of these crimes would be disallowed and subject to Federal and state taxation. Those funds were contributed for legitimate religious, educational, or social benefit purposes and should not be used to pay the expenses and compensation for criminal behavior.

 
Plan of Action – A Congressional committee of lawyers and others concerned about the clerical abuse scandal should be formed for the purpose of preparing the draft national legislation to enable the FBI to locate and apprehend the offenders and their enablers. Federal district attorneys should file the charges against the offenders and their enablers and trials should be conducted by the respective Federal district courts. Furthermore, a separate Act of Congress should be enacted to prevent the transfer of tax exempt funds to the Vatican and any other external jurisdiction that does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. It would enable the return and prosecution of those accused of the abuse of minors, and their enablers such as
Cardinal Law, for prosecution of their crimes in United States courts.


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