The interest of the Child Victims Act for victims of child sexual abuse – and the potential passage of the Adult Survivors Act for victims of adult abuse – is to secure justice for those victims.
But if victims can’t find a lawyer willing to take their case, they can’t get the justice they deserve.
This is one of the complaints from victims and victim advocates over the three-year-old Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on sex crimes so victims could seek civil damages. to their attackers.
Unless the victims have the financial means to hire an attorney, or unless the potential target of litigation has significant financial pockets to obtain legal fees as part of a large settlement (such as an institution like the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts of America), then victims often cannot find someone to take their cases to court.
What’s the point of having a law giving victims the right to sue if the lawsuit never gets filed?
The situation not only prevents some victims from seeking justice, but also protects their abusers from legal action, leaving them to get away with their crimes.
It is a travesty that can be avoided by creating a fund that victims could access to help them hire lawyers.
A bill pending in the Legislative Assembly (A1210A/S1088A) would create a dedicated fund for the Child Victim Foundation which would be financed by a child victim levy imposed on any defendant convicted of a crime against a person of under 18 years old. It would also allow businesses and individuals to donate their tax returns directly into the fund.
A bill introduced several years ago would have established a $300 million reconciliation and compensation fund for child victims, funded by a percentage of asset forfeitures and deferred prosecution agreements.
In combination with these funds, lawyers and law firms that profit from sexual abuse cases should provide a certain percentage of pro bono (free) work to eligible victims to ensure that more cases are heard.
Taxpayers should not pay the compensation that sex offenders should rightly pay. But the state could facilitate the creation of such a fund and manage the account.
A similar issue will arise if and when lawmakers approve the Adult Survivors Act, so they need to address the issue of legal funding as soon as possible.
A system that discourages or prevents victims from taking legal action against their abusers favors abusers who have already escaped their crimes for far too long.
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Categories: Editorial, Opinion