Friday, June 09, 2006

Exhibit A for Statutes of Limitation

Those who witnessed my outrage over the John Bennison molestation case in the Episcopal Diocese of Californicate might think I’m one of those witch hunters who have no problem dragging a man’s name through the mud on the basis of mere allegations and then maybe, say, executing him.

(By the way, if you think I’m using hyperbole there, I’m not. Bills to execute repeat child molesters have made progress in Oklahoma (That figures.) and South Carolina.)

But no, I’m no witch hunter. Instead, I suspect child molestation cases are prone to false allegations probably more than any other area of law. So in this area, I think it vital to uphold such principles as innocent until proven guilty, a fair and speedy trial, etc. It is every bit as important to protect the innocent as it is to mete justice out on the guilty.

One important way to do that is to have and enforce statutes of limitations or similar provisions of law. It’s very hard to defend oneself against allegations that suddenly “come forward” about something that supposedly happened decades ago. And memories after so long are less reliable.

But with all the money going to victims and their lawyers in abuse cases, opportunistic lawyers are resurrecting such dusty allegations every chance they get. One such lawyer is even trying to get at the Vatican’s money with an old abuse allegation. What’s worse, an Oregon federal judge has given him the go ahead.

Now, let’s see. The lawyer, Mr. Anderson, is “giddy” at suing the Vatican. He’s already sued most of the Roman Catholic dioceses in the U. S. And he’s representing a “John Doe” in an allegation of abuse against a dead man that supposedly occurred about 40 years ago.

Excuse me, but I smell a rat.

This case and this lawyer are Exhibits A and B on why there are and should be statutes of limitation. And it’s a bad reflection on the state of the legal system in this country that this case wasn’t tossed out of court at the beginning.

But maybe I'm nitpicking. After all, getting those child molesters and bashing the Cafflick Church justifies anything, right?

(My lawyer friends, I understand this is a civil case and not a criminal case. Are there statutes of limitation or the equivalent in civil cases? If not, there ought to be.)

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