Saturday, March 25, 2006

(MD) URGENT- To Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

From: Bob Russell
SNAP of Maryland

Dear Friends:

I was made aware of a recent development today on the legislation passed out of the House Judiciary.
While this appeared to be a watered down victory, it was brought to my attention today that the bill is NOT retroactive. The bill would only benefit those persons who were abused and will be no older than 25 as of October 1, 2006. This presents several options.

There is value in having the legislation in my opinion for the purpose to help those survivors that are living alone with this to step forward. While the numbers are small compared to the majority, they do exist and this will help them in healing. We can’t overlook that.

The problem with the bill of course is that it doesn’t benefit the majority of survivors that have been abused. The church gets to position themselves as being pro child and at the same time escape liability. As much as I hate to say it, it was a brilliant PR move by their lobbyist.

We have to take a direction Monday. That is why I am writing you. During a conference call tonight, we discussed several options. We need to hear from you. This is your legislation. I didn’t think it was right for several of us to make unilateral decisions that would affect everyone. So please give us your feedback.

It was proposed that we explore getting the bill amended to it’s original form. This would be done with the expectation that the amendment would be defeated and the bill will pass. What this does is lets the powers in Annapolis know that this is not acceptable to us as survivors and we will be back again next year. This allows us to send that message without publicly condemning it.

Condemning it and seeking to kill it is the second option. The benefit in my opinion is that this legislation ,and one that is a huge victory for the church, gets to be brought up again next year but in the correct format. We are getting stronger and better at this the more we go. We never expected to get this far this year. The risk, and it is a substantial one, is that the church could effectively use this as a PR piece to show that we are all the bad things they say we are. i.e, money grubbers, out to destroy the church, we don’t care about the safety of kids, only ourselves, etc.

We really need to hear from you. Please respond by tomorrow night at the latest and let us know your thoughts. Be sure to respond to Dave Lorenz (Cc’d) and myself also.

Again, I want to thank everyone for all that you do. The letters, the calls, the support, your ideas, it’s a combined effort.

We have said for sometime that this was going to be a process.
We didn’t expect to get anywhere near this far this year. We need to keep doing the next right thing. We need to hear from you so as to decide what that is.

I’d also like to please ask you not to say “whatever you decide”.
We need to hear from thoughts. Thanks, I appreciate it.



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