Below is one site visitor’s letter to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in regard to important legislation for children’s protection and justice. Please send your own. What are your thoughts on these proposed bills?
June 15, 2011
Representative Ronald S. Marsico
105th Legislative District, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Chairman, Judiciary Committee
PA House of Representatives
218 Ryan Office Building
PO Box 202105
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2105
Re: Scheduled Hearing Dates: House Bill 832 – Sponsor Rep. Louise Williams Bishop (statute of limitations for child sexual abuse – criminal & civil) House Bill 878 – Sponsor Rep. Michael McGeehan (legislation to allow civil action for child sexual abuse)
Honorable Rep. Marsico:
I wanted to write to you directly as the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the PA House of Representatives. By now, I am sure that you and your office have been deluged by callers, correspondence, lobbyists, citizens, etc. in order to determine your position on the HB Bill 832 (proposed by Rep. Bishop) and HB 878 (proposed by Rep.McGeehan), legislators both from the City of Philadelphia..
My effort here is a heartfelt and personal one, from one father to another. In your case, you are also a grandfather and you know all too well that our children represent our dearest and finest hopes for the future. No matter what position any Pennsylvania citizen is in, he or she must stand up, support and protect the children throughout the Commonwealth. However, given the evil influences and criminal elements in our society, today’s children and grandchildren are at grave risk for exploitation and abuse every single day. Despite our best efforts to protect them, their bodies, minds, spirits and hearts, it is sad to face the fact that a certain percentage will suffer the horror, humiliation and devastation of sexual abuse by someone in their community, their school, their church or even in their homes.
What can we do now for those children and young adults who will be victims of sexual abuse in the days, months and years to come here in the Commonwealth? In the minimum, we can ensure that they will be able to have their day in court, both civilly and criminally, regardless of when they are able to come forward, face their accuser, and file criminal and/or civil action. And this is what is provided in the proposal offered by Rep. Louise Bishop; our sexually abuse children, regardless of when they come forward, will have the ability to have their horrible abuse allegations pursued through the legal processes available.
Rep. Marsico, I have already taken the focus of this letter away from where I had first intended it to be. Sir, these are our children and nothing should stand in our way to protect them now and provide for their recovery and legal remedies in the future. With our matters not as important, vital, close to our hearts and families, we can tolerate politics, lobbyists, special interests, etc. that can influence what needs to be done. Here we all cannot allow it.
Sir, this is not about being right or winning. This has been, is now and will always be about the children. The previous attempt at such legislation was met with such mean-spirited and callous comments by the Judiciary Chairman that sought to portray the sexual abuse victims as “looking for money” through legal action. You will notice that such a feeble and feckless excuse is not even mentioned these days given all that has occurred locally, nationally and worldwide regarding the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
I have contacted all of the offices of the members of the Judiciary Committee and the one response I hear, week in and week out, is that it is up to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to schedule hearings on HB 832 and 878. It is up to you to provide the opportunity for citizens to be heard, to have their say, to allow input and comment regarding these two proposals. I know that action has been taken by the committee regarding “bath salts” and I believe that there is work scheduled for the juvenile “tanning beds” problems. Though these are important matters, NONE is more important than our children here in the Commonwealth. Whether it is in Dauphin County or Philadelphia County, our children need our citizenry and elected officials to do the right thing for them now and in the future.
I know that there are many children social service and service delivery agencies and organizations throughout the Commonwealth who would probably stand in opposition to such legislative proposals. Of course, we are already intimately aware of the certain religious organizations and their reluctance to support such changes in PA laws. Rep. Marsico, when such organizations oppose such important changes to protect our children, they are acting in their own best interests, that of their agencies, their leadership and their reputations. But who will act in the best interests of the children of the Commonwealth?
There is no middle ground here, Rep. Marsico. A Pennsylvanian is either for the children and the legislative proposals or he/she opposes such positive change and is unconcerned with what is in the best interests of our children, particularly those who are victims of sexual abuse. Up until this point throughout many areas of the Commonwealth, the silence has indeed been deafening. The many PA legislators, who along with Reps. Bishop and McGeehan, helped introduce HB 832 and 878 are to be commended for standing up for our children.
In your biography, Rep. Marsico, I noticed that you graduated from Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg. Interestingly, after retiring as a Captain from the Philadelphia Police Department in 1998, I taught at Bishop McDevitt High School for one year but this high school was located in Wyncote, in Montgomery County just outside of Philadelphia. Why I share this story with you is that I taught classes in “Justice and Morality” to junior high school students. This is indeed a difficult topic to bring to high school students and our Bishop McDevitt High School had children come from a variety of educational, religious, socio-economic and racial backgrounds. However, even at that young, spirited age of those in high school, these students know the horror of sexual abuse, know that it is so very wrong, know that it devastates the mind, body and spirit of the victim and believes that such victims are entitled to legal remedies when they are able to come forward, present their allegations and face those who have violated them.
I thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts and concerns regarding this very important issue, i.e., sexual abuse of children, and once again urge you to schedule hearings in the Judiciary Committee as soon as possible on the proposals offered by Reps. Bishop and McGeehan (HB 832 and HB 878).
Captain (Retired) Philadelphia Police Dept.