Friday, 18 August 2017

North Carolina SOL Reform NC HB585 via @KezStarbuck



On April 6, 2017, the North Carolina House of Representatives introduced an historic bill designed to reform the statute of limitations,  changing the existing law to provide survivors of child sexual abuse a revised legal mechanism to bring civil action for damages. Like all proposed legislation, the bill was "read" three times and then voted on by a caucus of House members, passing overwhelmingly, 112 yea, to only 3 nays. No doubt a very encouraging vote in favor of changing a law that has prevented survivors of child sexual abuse from finally holding those responsible for the devastating and debilitating damages typical of such heinous acts. 

However, it's not time to celebrate—yet. The North Carolina Senate has to vote in favor of this legislative reform, before it will become law.

NC HB585 was successfully and enthusiastically endorsed by the NC House of Representatives, who have recently been embroiled in battle over what will surely prove historically controversial decisions regarding the treatment of young people, victims of harassment and NC state laws dealing with designating bathroom assignment for transgendered individuals. 

After the established confidence from the House side, NC HB585 was sent over to the Senate with great momentum. Alas, because of the annual cutoff deadline for getting new bills into the cue, and assuring a bill will receive a vote during the current session, HB585 became somewhat submerged beneath the chaos, likely placing it out of "sight and mind" while were deeply engrossed in an effort to get their bills over to the respective "other side" before the annual deadline would disqualify them until they can resubmit next session. Fortunately, HB585 successfully made the "crossover" deadline, and has since been patiently awaiting the early fall return of the Senate to finish the job.

The good news is the North Carolina Senate has now returned, is "in the saddle" as of August 3, 2017 and on the roster to be assigned to committee for reading and a vote.

This where your critical help is needed. Bills like NC HB585 usually get quite a bit of media coverage as well as lobbyist attention. In our society it's a certainty bills dealing with sexual assault and justice are simply controversial. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the largest and most powerful lobbyists who vigorously oppose laws like this—predictably fight "tooth and nail" to prevent such legislation from passing to become law. I honestly find it quite disturbing, the incredible lengths to which the Catholic church will go, in an attempt to avoid culpability and the morally and civic responsibility to compensate survivors of rape and the sexual assault of innocent children by their priests. 

HB585, as far as I can tell, has not been targeted by the Conference of Catholic Bishops to-date, however the Boy Scouts of America are making a concerted effort to convince some NC Senators to reject this bill. 

In a nutshell, when made into law, HB585 will allow survivors to seek damages, including access to treatment and a chance of survival after enduring decades of suffering, poverty, mental and psychological illness and, in many cases, a total inability to function. 

Lives will be saved by passing NC HB585 into law, just as similar laws have done for survivors in many states across the country, reviving archaic legislation established long before the research findings shedding light on the often crippling and long-lasting affects from child sexual abuse. 

The Department of Justice's project, "Changing Minds Now," (www.changingmindsnow.org), published research findings summarizing comprehensive evidence of neurological damage to the delicate and vulnerable brains of young children exposed to trauma such as violence, abuse and crimes like child sexual abuse. This conclusive evidence illuminates and instructs how traumas like child sexual abuse causes lasting damage to the plastic and developing brains of young victims. Early interventional treatment  has been found to be a key factor in mitigating potentially devastating developmental impact,  affecting the future lives of survivors in devastating ways.

North Carolina HB585 proposes a reform to the long-standing laws that continue to bar CSA survivors from bringing civil action and settlement for damages resulting to the atrocious trauma sustained by victims of sexual assault as children. Like so many states, the current NC law limits the window of time during which survivors can bring a civil lawsuit to 21 years of age. This  provision has proven to be extremely unrealistic, resulting—as statistics inform—in  survivors often never stepping forward to disclose what happened, much less seek legal remedy.

Year after year, statistics show that only a small percentage of child sexual assault victims will step forward to bring criminal or civil charges, or at the very least simply make the declaration for their own purpose. When and if they do, the majority generally won't even do so until they are well into adulthood. By then, the psychological damage and impact has very likely manifested in a manner that effectively becomes life-halting. Symptoms of submerged psychological trauma and neuro-palthways damage that can simply no longer overlooked. Ar sime point survivors of child sexual abuse find themselves so overwhelmed by dysfunction, that the search for causation becomes a matter of solving, for many, seems a fundamental existential puppeteer.  Multiple psychiatric diagnoses and subsequent hospitalizations are likely to have already taken place by this juncture. There are myriad reasons why survivors don't seek justice, or avoid telling ANYONE about this history until mid-to-late adulthood. The most common reasons are actually quite simple, despite what is apparently vastly mysterious and confounding to many critics. A great majority of victims of child sexual assault  keep the facts secret because of an overwhelming sense of shame, and a suffocating   fear of being blamed, accused of lying or fabricating their story. Another significant disincentive to disclose their story is the likelihood of a lengthy process of litigation and discovery, which inevitably involves extremely painful emotions and frankly inevitable revictimization.

I have experienced all of these 
facets of emotion and circumstances personally, and despite my determination and efforts, both the civil and criminal cases I initiated were also ultimately dismissed after five years. More pain, trauma and the stark reality that settles in once the lawyers have dispersed and there you stand is solitary silence. You can't believe that you lost the legal right to compensation for being the sexual child victim of an adult who was morally bankrupt, admitted their guilt and one of the oldest, wealthiest and largest religious organizations in the universe not only refuses to apologize but is now legally allowed to turn their back on you. The Catholic church. Christians.

And boy do they ever turn their back on you, as if ordained by god himself.

The criminal case ended because the defendant developed symptoms of dementia causing the judge to rule a dismissal due to his "inability to participate in legal proceedings." The civil case was dismissed by grant of "Summary Judgement," based on the current NC Statute of Limitations. Both decisions were rendered in August of 2015. Of interesting note,  I learned the criminal case was the oldest "on the books" when it was dismissed. The defendant chronically claimed health restrictions and ambulatory problems to evade court appearances, while at the same time I've documented him enjoying numerous visits (out for lunch on the town) hosted by some of his 1,300 Facebook supporters. They posted photos of these social events and shared the "good cheer" postings from the online forum. He never told them he confessed the day he was arrested. 

The Charlotte Diocese of North Carolina knew about the priest's confession, never informing their constituency, and knowingly allowing thousands of supporters to engage in a lengthy defamation effort against me online lasting two years. During the lengthy litigating period, the defendant claimed he was unwell and homebound, evidence of the dedication to defiance of justice and moral obligation by the Catholic Church. 

You might be interested to know, after the case rulings, I've contacted them repeatedly to demand an apology for the assaults to which their priest readily confessed. I've yet to receive any response.

To read the actual language contained in the proposed HB585 legislation, already passed in the NC House of Representatives in April, please go tohttp://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/billlookup/billlookup.pl?Session=2017&BillID=H585 .

Any survivor who's had to cope with the affects of trauma will likely find the results of the research by Changing Minds Now, at the very least, very informative and instructive. And at best, perhaps find some empowerment learning that physiological changes may be at the root of the struggle they've endured. I hope survivors of the horrible trauma of child sexual abuse can one day benefit from improved treatment, refined by the insights and results from integrating findings from this research. The opportunity to develop related treatment solutions can legitimately translate into improving lives and restoring functionality for survivors who otherwise, honestly, don't have many meaningful options available. 

You can actually help get NC HB585 legislation passed, and help to empower survivors to pursue justice after a lifetime of enduring the horrible, devastating symptoms so often resulting from the horrific damages of child sexual abuse. Below you'll find an email address, to which if you send an email (You MUST include "HB585" in the subect), you'll receive a response containing a list of email addresses, names and phone numbers for every North Carolina Senator. Additionally, a copy of the current HB585 language with links to resources related to this process and the NC General Assembly, will be included. Then, you can contact them and tell them how incredibly important it is to protect children and survivors by voting YES on North Carolina HB585.

This law belongs to the survivors of child sexual assault everywhere, Americans and residents of the great state of North Carolina. It belongs to us because we've proven that our Constitution guarantees American citizens have a unique power to change laws in this country, and we will not stand for the systematic destruction of the lives of innocent children. Period.

The following URL links to a victim's statement.


Please view the video and call NC Senators to urge them to vote in favor of NC HB585. The House of Representatives introduced the bill on April 5, 2017 and by April 17 they secured a passing vote  - 112 Yea to 3 Nay - with no changes be administrative.

This bill will continue the fight to secure the safety and security of innocent children, helping to protect them from the trauma of child sexual assault, and help protect the survivors as they endeavor to live their lives and overcome such catastrophic trauma.

​For more information and details, 
​simply email a request to NCH5852017@gmail.com

Thank you for reading.

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