Tis the season for legislative reform
Because we at Horowitz Law harp about it so often about, it would be easy to assume that civil windows are the very best legislative step to protect kids.
(See here for example: https://adamhorowitzlaw.com/more-statute-of-limitations-reforms-in-the-works/)
But civil windows aren’t the ONLY way legislators can help stop sexual violence.
We at Horowitz Law ALSO harp bout being vigilant around kids.
But that’s not the only group only people who need vigilance. Legislators do too.
And since many legislators are in session right now, here are, in our view, a few other reforms that would enable more child molesters to be caught, convicted and kept away from kids. In addition to civil windows, state legislators should consider pushing and backing these steps:
—RICO laws (which stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations). These statutes enable lawyers and law enforcement to better pursue those who CONCEAL abuse, not just those who COMMIT abuse.
—Laws banning or restricting “gag orders” or “NDAs” (non-disclosure agreements), which are becoming more common in the #MeToo, post-Harvey Weinstein era.
—Mandatory reporting laws, especially with tougher penalties (See more about how we view these statutes here: https://adamhorowitzlaw.com/which-reform-is-better-mandatory-reporting-or-statute-of-limitations/.
—Anti-SLAPP laws (which stands for ‘strategic lawsuit against public participation). These measures protect non-profits who help expose abusers and their enablers from mean-spirited, intimidating litigation designed to silence victims, advocates and whistleblowers.
The West Virginia legislature has enacted a bill that would require that the conduct of accused child molesting teachers “be investigated fully, even if they resign.”
It also adds language about “defining grooming a student or minor.” As a local newspaper editorial put it “Giving everyone a clear understanding of what the law means by ‘grooming a student or minor’ is essential, and administrators much be certain every teacher is familiar with the law.”
(The measure, HB 4378, awaits the signature of Gov. Jim Justice.)
And Missouri lawmaker has introduced a so-called ‘Victims Bill of Rights.” Sponsored by Senator David Sater (R-Cassville), the proposal “would establish protections for survivors during and after sexual assault forensic examinations” including “the right to have a staff member or volunteer from a rape crisis center on hand during examinations and interviews with law enforcement.”
Additionally, the measure would also “ensure that survivors are never prosecuted for misdemeanor crimes based on evidence from their examinations, among other protections.”
We at Horowitz Law haven’t studied all these proposals. But we sure endorse the concepts: clarifying and codifying increased protections for those who report sexual violence AND making it harder for accused abusive teachers to quietly move elsewhere.
Finally, here’s something else to consider: If you’re a survivor, want to protect others and expose wrongdoers but retain your privacy, lobbying for better is a potentially good option for you. Why? Because you need not explain yourself or your motivations when pushing legislative change. Many will assume you’re a parent or a friend of a victim of sexual violence. Many others will be sensitive enough to not ask “Why are you doing this?” Regardless, you can prod and educate lawmakers about sexual violence without disclosing that you’ve experienced it.