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The Capital Times: Support the Child Victims Act

November 30, 2011

The following editorial was published in the Capital Times on November 28, 2011.

Some issues go beyond ideology, party and politics.

Child abuse tops the list.

And we hope that members of the Wisconsin Legislature will recognize and respect this basic premise.

State Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, and state Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Whitefish Bay, have introduced landmark legislation aimed at protecting victims of sexual abuse by removing the civil statute of limitations in sex assault and rape cases involving children.

The legislation, for which Lassa and Pasch are now seeking co-sponsors, is the Child Victims Act. To our view, it addresses a serious flaw in existing statutes.

As Wisconsin law now stands, civil actions in childhood sexual abuse cases must be brought forward by victims before they reach the age of 35. Yet there are many examples of cases where victims of childhood abuse do not come forward with complaints — because of fear, shame or confusion — until much later in life.

The Child Victims Act would remove Wisconsin’s arbitrary limitation and respect the reality of how victims of abuse deal with the trauma. Modeled after laws enacted in a number of other states, it would hold offenders accountable for sexually assaulting children regardless of when those crimes were perpetrated.

Recent allegations of child sexual abuse by a former Penn State assistant football coach demonstrate that more needs to be done to identify predators, says Lassa, who argues that laws such as the Child Victims Act can play a role in preventing ongoing patterns of abuse.

“The Penn State situation is another tragic reminder that pedophiles, if given the opportunity, will continue to seek out new victims,” said Lassa. “Research has shown that these child molesters will have over 80 to 100 victims during a lifetime and will continue to victimize children well into their 60s and beyond. The Child Victims Act gives us a tool to help reveal more of these criminals and keep offenders from preying on other innocent children.”

These are unsettling issues to deal with. That’s all the more reason to get things right.

The Child Victims Abuse act does just that. We hope that conservative and liberal, Democratic and Republican legislators will move quickly to support and enact it.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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