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April 16, 2024 11:29 AM UTC

“Child Sexual Abuse Has Never Been A Partisan Issue Before”

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  • by: Colorado Pols
Local child molester and Catholic priest Father Charles Woodrich.

Colorado Public Radio’s Andrew Kenney reports on the continuing struggle in the Colorado Senate to find one solitary Republican lawmaker willing to complete a supermajority in favor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 001, a.k.a. the Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Amendment, which would refer to the voters a ballot question that if approved would open a “look back” window for civil suits against child sex abusers and the institutions that covered said abuse up. Although Colorado Republicans have vilified Democrats all session long for their supposed “pro-pedophile” votes on Republican bills imposing mandatory minimum sentences, the Senate Republicans’ unified opposition to this legislation–and their reasoning behind this seeming major contradiction–is blowing a big hole in this election year’s designated conservative moral panic:

Because the proposal aims to amend the constitution, it can only pass with supermajority support from lawmakers. On their own, Democrats are just one vote short of that requirement in the Senate.

So far, the backers of SCR-001 haven’t convinced a single Republican to support the measure. Sen. Jessie Danielson, a Democratic sponsor, said she was surprised by the resistance.

“Child sexual abuse has never been a partisan issue before,” she said in an interview. [Pole emphasis]

Of course, Democrats shouldn’t be the only ones surprised to find our “tough on crime” Republicans suddenly skittish about holding child sex abusers accountable. It’s head-spinningly off brand. But even though the statistics say that child sex abuse is overwhelmingly committed by individuals known to the victim like family, teachers, and clergy, Senate Republicans as of this writing want nothing to do with with a “look back” window to hold them accountable as has been passed in 27 other states–yes, including in New York, where a “look back” law that allowed writer E. Jean Carroll to successfully sue Donald Trump for sexual battery.

Rather than mentioning Trump himself, which is almost certainly factoring into their opposition, here’s who else Republicans are out to protect by opposing SCR24-001: insurance companies and the Catholic Church.

Senate Majority Paul Lundeen, a Republican, voted in favor of the 2021 accountability bill. This year, though, he’s urging his colleagues to oppose SCR-001.

“Quite frankly, I understand the issue more clearly today than I did then,” he said in an interview.

Lundeen said that he had grown concerned about the concept of opening organizations to civil liability for individuals’ past crimes… [Pols emphasis]

Liable under New York’s Adult Survivors Act.

Justice is important, say Republicans, but in today’s GOP money still talks louder:

The American Property and Casualty Insurance Association has warned allowing these lawsuits would put “further pressure” on the insurance market since many defendants would rely on liability insurance to pay out settlements or judgments.

The Colorado Catholic Conference is opposed to the measure, with attorney Doug Tumminello arguing on their behalf at a recent hearing. Tumminello said he had defended organizations against claims dating to the 1940s.

In short, you’ve got the insurance industry worried about big payouts, and the Catholic Church nervously aware it is one of the largest and oldest pedophilia dens in the entire world. The Catholic Church’s extensive history of covering up sex abuse via a global network of what amounts to safehouses for abuser priests is a bigger scandal than anything the far right has ever invented on the issue like “Pizzagate.” It also happens to be, unlike right-wing conspiracy theories, extremely well-documented.

CPR reports that there is a possibility that one Republican Senator, the retiring Sen. Perry Will of New Castle, may be a swingable vote after being personally lobbied by a victim of church sexual abuse. Two years ago, a similar measure passed with bipartisan support only to fail in the courts, setting up this year’s strategy of going to the ballot for a constitutional amendment. In theory that would give waffling Republicans a way to vote for the legislation without being responsible in a final sense for the effects. Unfortunately, the pretext of “uncertainty” appears to have just given them another excuse to vote against.

Every election cycle in recent years has featured what we’ve come to call the “Crimenado” campaign of Republicans relentlessly hyping up fear over rising crime, regardless of whether or not crime is actually rising which in Colorado it presently is not. This year’s vehicle for the GOP’s election-minded moral panic was legislation that would have imposed mandatory minimums for a variety of sex crimes, which after being voted down was seized upon by Republicans who shrilly accused Democrats of being “pro-pedophile”–an allegation too outlandish to stick with reasonably-minded voters.

But when it comes to potentially big institutional money–or to Donald Trump–Republican moral conviction against sexual misconduct is…well, it’s flexible.

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