sarah serluco: my blog

Love thy neighbor and eat more veggies

Community Stakeholders

 

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The first sponsor interviewed was Republican Jason Spencer who is the originator of the bill. He was made aware of a sexual abuse case in his district and was contacted by victims of karate instructor whom they claimed sexually abused them. Their accusations were found credible by the District Attorney but were unable to file criminal charges or file a civil case because of the statutes of limitations. The instructors continue to teach karate to children. Representative Spencer’s wife is also a sexual abuse survivor. He saw a current need to solve a problem along with helping future victims. These two situations were the genesis of the legislation.

Rep Spencer originally wrote the bill to eliminate statute of limitations altogether. But, with the pressure building from the special interests and the lobbyists, it was changed in committee. They see the legislation as opening up problems for their groups and company’s. The archdiocese of Atlanta and other religious institutions claim a bill like this will discourage people from volunteering because it will make them vulnerable to possible accusations. Many suspect that they continue to protect the priests that molest young boys. The insurance industries see the problem in that with an open-ended policy on civil trials it will leave them exposed to many payouts.

Rep Spencer, new to his position, focusing on an election year and distracted by other legislation he was working to pass, was naïve and unaware that there would be anyone that would disagree with the proposed legislation. By the time he found out, the text of the bill was being changed and other sponsors weakened their position by the pressure. Spencer knowing the bill was in trouble tried to attach it to another bill at the last moment but was unsuccessful.

He will attempt to re-introduce the legislation again in the next session if he wins re-election. This time he will align himself with knowledgeable advocates that can help write the proper legislation and help maneuver through the opposition. He mentioned Marci Hamilton who is the public law chair at the Cardozo School of Law in New York and specializes in Constitutional law, first amendment law and religion in the law. She is an expert on statute of limitation on childhood sex abuse cases and Spencer hopes to work with her in the future.

 

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Mary Margaret Oliver, Democrat from district 82 and, my representative to Decatur, is a co-sponsor to the bill. Her office was contacted and I was able to speak to her Chief of Staff Caroll Stern after the busy crossover day. He said Representative Oliver was approached by Spencer because he needed a co-sponsor that had some experience and respect at the Capitol and who took on other child welfare legislation. He did not know much about the bill and that this practice of attaching different people to bills and not being too involved is quite common. He’s not sure why the bill died but believes the language would need to be tweaked. He thought new people need to be brought in to support it. He suggested another Republican leader would be a good choice as it is a very conservative house.

 

Another community stakeholder interviewed was Alan Fountain. A survivor of child sexual abuse and volunteer and executive director of advocacy group TAP, Truth + Answers = Power, as well as as a member of Georgia Families of Justice. This is a non-governmental agency comprised of citizens who lobby their support for statute of limitations justice reforms to protect against child sex abuse legal loop holes. His abuse left him with PTSD and has spent over 30 years and nearly 2 million dollars on his own medical care in order to treat his symptoms which resulted from his traumatic experiences.

Mr. Fountain shared with me the importance of the Adverse Childhood Experience score (ACE) created by the CDC. There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in this study. Five are personal – physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Of course there are other types of trauma but these were determined to be the most common. What the CDC learned is that there is a link between childhood trauma and adult diseases. (CDC 2010) What is your ACE score? You can take the test here.

Mr. Fountain spoke of being a survivor of a “childhood serial predator in Thomaston, GA of over 364 violations from age 9-16 from 1972 -1979 by the towns most polarizing athletic Coach, hired by a multi billion dollar conglomerate and in collaboration with the local town youth athletic program.” Without the opportunity for restitution he became an authority and expert on statute of limitations in Georgia. He is an extremely outspoken and passionate supporter of eliminating the statute of limitations entirely and feels anything short of this is a weak piece of legislation. He has followed HB 771 quite closely and has a very strong opinion as to why it has been challenging to get passed.

Mr. Fountain looks at it as a power and money issue. “Legislators whether corrupt or not have the power to end this American Pandemic of 42,000,000 American survivors costing taxpayers over $158 Billion annually. Beginning June 24, 2013 I contacted every Republican politician starting with the town Mayor, District attorney, City Attorney, City Manager, all 6 sponsors of HB 771 and no one would call me back or return emails.” said Mr. Fountain regarding his case. He went on to add, “I did get one email from the city attorney stating the city insurance provider forbids them to speak to me.”

He also sees great weakness in the wording of the bill and notes that it allows survivors to only go after individuals and protects churches, athletic programs, insurance companies and city municipalities. My prediction is that he will continue to work tirelessly until the proper legislation is made and he has received restitution for the crimes committed against him.

 

 

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The last interview to include is with an anonymous person who is a survivor of sexual abuse as a young teenage girl. She offered a great perspective on how the abused feels. She was silent with her story until more recently in her life and she understands how other survivors of abuse may wait for years to come forward with their own stories. When she told her mother that her boyfriend had been abusing her for years when he lived with them, her mother did not believe her. She was even angry and blamed her for what happened. Even times as a young girl she protected her mother from telling her knowing her mother needed the boyfriend in the home to help pay for living expenses. She even protected her mother, who was also a survivor of abuse, from the painful stories she would share knowing it would bring up bad memories for her mom. Even as a victim she did everything she felt she needed to do to protect her family. This is just one situation but it can represent many. This is a perfect example of why it may take the survivors years to ever come forward and tell their story and places an even greater importance on eliminating statute of limitations.

We spoke of the proposed HB 771 and how it would effect her situation. She feels it would be wonderful to eliminate the statute of limitations entirely but it would be hard personally. She’s not sure where to begin, or how she would be able to prove her case. After all these years it would be her word against his. Not to mention the emotional toll on her and her family. Her mother still does not believe her or want to believe her. This has been a constant area of difficulty in her life trying to understand why it is that her mother, the one person who should protect her, doesn’t even believe her. She is amazing for the fact that she can forgive her mother and the perpetrator. But, goes on to say she will never forget. It’s not hard to understand that she may never prosecute given the fact over 90% of sexual abuse crimes do not go on to prosecution. (Adams 2009)

She says the reasons she never came forward is out of embarrassment. She was ashamed of her childhood and of her mother. Her maturity and talking about it with me and with others helps her to work through the emotional pain which she says is part of the healing process.

 

The archdiocese of Atlanta was contacted to participate in this class exercise but did not respond.


6 Responses to “Community Stakeholders”

  1. mpalmiter@gsu.edu says:

    Very, Very nicely done.

  2. Robert StrongBow says:

    That you did this comes as a surprise to me Ms Serluco, I am proud of you, but more than that, not only did you do this very well, the fact that you care shines like a beacon in the night. So much so that I am going to post your link on Our Site.
    GOD Bless you!
    Robert

    • Alan Fountain says:

      YES Robert Strongbow I agree with you. Anytime we can have an intelligent look at different roadblocks about the gridlocks in the legislative and judicial process. After This Interview I learned of the influences of powers in the legislative branches keeping predator secrets of my town leaders in Thomaston Georgia that are still being covered up at state Capitol level. Ethics and morality is disturbing when elected official condone a pedophile culture and state agencies enable the problem. Many Skeletons in these closets.

  3. Virginia Dean says:

    Thank you for this article and educating GA citizens about this critical problem that has been kept secret from the citizens of the state. I was one of the citizens who was kept in the dark unaware that something so horrific and yet preventable was happening in our own communities and involved people we knew and blindly trusted. The opened wounds can be healed though there will always remain the devastating scars on the children as well as on our state. Until leaders courageously do the right thing, your children and grandchildren … As well as mine and every other citizen …. Will be in danger unnecessarily. There are undoubtedly many predators who can be taken off the streets if, and only if, adult survivors of child molestation are supported instead of revictimized when they come forward. For that reason, the SOL should be eliminated or greatly extended, and past victims should be given the opportunity to report abuse, open and see closed secret records, and get justice and accountability from the molestors for the abuse and from companies who enabled the abuse by not reporting suspected or known molestors. They need to be held accountable for the lives that have been devastated emotionally, physically, and financially when they chose to protect predators. Let adult victims help us take those serial molestors off the streets and get help to protect our children. And let the ones responsible pay for the victims’ expenses instead of taxpayers who were kept unaware of these hidden predators or abuse or the price they were paying for these crimes perpetrated on their children.

    • Alan Fountain says:

      Virginia Dean I wish I knew who you were as your understanding and insights are so elevated and articulate. Thank you for adding merit with your comments! Alan Fountain 404-447-0535

  4. jane maurice says:

    My colleagues were searching for CA FTB 590 yesterday and came across a document management site that has lots of sample forms . If you want CA FTB 590 too , here’s https://goo.gl/S9AbpM.

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