No progress on statute of limitations reform for victims of abuse

Three years ago Reverend Geoffrey Drew was arrested on nine counts of child rape, and local parents still see no effort to protect their children.

At the time, Drew was the pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Green Township, which gave him superintendent authority over the largest parochial elementary school in Ohio.

After his arrest, we learned that employees of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati knew about Drew’s red flag behavior for three decades and three Ohio counties with the children.

According to the list of evidence, this included a 1983 letter from a Catholic school principal, a vacation with boys, an official complaint to the seminary for having a child in his room, a plea for help written by schoolchildren from the Dayton area to St. Rita in 2006, Drew’s use of parish funds for a male nude massage service in 2012, and three Butler County investigations in 2013 and 2015.

Despite this and other concerning reports, Drew was made responsible for St. Ignatius School (with over 1,000 students) and the parish.

Alarmed, a group of parents and grandparents started Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati and sent 1,300 signatures in a petition asking the Vatican to investigate the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have never formally responded to the call for security and transparency.

After speaking to survivors, prosecutors, lawmakers and other local, state and national experts, our group realized that it was not just Catholic policies that had failed, but that it was a statewide failure to have up-to-date and effective child sexual abuse laws.

We joined other concerned Ohioans to form Ohioans for Child Protection to urge lawmakers to address the child sexual abuse crisis in Ohio. Child USA, a national expert on child sexual abuse, estimates that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 13 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18, and predators can claim an average of 150 victims in their lifetime. life.

Ohio has been rated with an “F” by Child USA for child sexual abuse laws. Ohioans For Child Protection called, emailed, and met with Ohio lawmakers to create better grooming laws, stricter mandatory reporting, demand age-appropriate parenting, and criminal statute reform and civil limitations for child sexual abuse.

Despite nearly three years of advocacy by Ohioans for child protection and 20 years of advocacy by the survivor group, the majority party has blocked the most effective efforts to protect Ohio’s children from rape.

“Weak laws in Ohio and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati allowed Father Drew, who taught me in elementary school and raped my classmate, to move to Ohio, baptize my baby and then to run Ohio elementary school for my kids,” said Rebecca Surendorff, a St. Parent of Ignatius alumnus, St. Jude alumnus, and member of Ohioans for Child Protection.

“The Archdiocese has not faced civil or criminal consequences for these actions. Republican leaders in Columbus have failed to pass laws that could save thousands of children from rape. States from Louisiana to New York has stricter laws to identify hidden predators.”

According to a national expert on these issues, Marci Hamilton of Child USA, “Ohio is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to justice and healing for child victims of sexual abuse. I stopped waiting for the Vatican years ago. What is needed is reform of the statute of limitations and prosecutors who have the courage to prosecute criminals against children in their own state.”

According to Kathryn Robb, Executive Director of CHILD USAadvocacy and survivor of child sexual abuse:

“The criminal justice system can go no further, as evidenced by the Father Drew case. As a lawyer, a reasonable woman, and an American citizen, I believe in the rule of law and due process. However, all the laws have exceptions that are based on After all, we’re not talking about “slips and falls” cases or snagging cases, we’re talking about the sexual assault, rape and sodomy of our children.

“It’s simple: restrictive statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse protect the sexual predator and those who harbor them, not the children. Many states across the country take a zero-tolerance stance on child sexual abuse. Children Ohio, on the other hand, remains totally tolerant and accommodating of sexual predators, offering them and the institutions that conceal them the highest levels of protection.

Ohio HB266 is a current bill that would reform statute of limitations laws and allow victims in Ohio to come forward to report.

State Representative Jeff LaRe, of R-Violet Township in suburban Columbus, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, did not schedule committee hearings for this crucial legislation.

Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann

Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann is a Catholic mother who spends her time directing children to activities, working as an event planner, and advocating for child protection and justice for victims of sexual abuse with concerned Catholics from Cincinnati. For more information about Ohioans for Child Protection, contact Dinwiddie-Herrmann at 513-505-0512 or email [email protected]

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