Child sex abuse: When concern for institutional risk trumps the truth

Pennsylvania state representative Thomas P. Murt serves the 152nd Legislative District. He is the secretary of the Child and Youth Committee and chairs the Health and Human Services Subcommittee on Mental Health. As a proud Penn State alumnus who still teaches at the PSU Abington campus, he writes a powerful article on the dire need to shine the light of truth on child sexual abuse. Here are some notable excerpts:
I serve on the Child and Youth Committee and have listened to and read many hours of excruciatingly painful testimony from victims and their families describing the most heinous sexual abuse imaginable. The institutional cover-ups and subsequent ill-treatment of victims have made these terrible situations even worse.
It’s a sad day, indeed, when concern for institutional risk management trumps uncovering the truth.
Rather than allow myself to become protective of the alleged and convicted criminals in these institutions that I hold most dear, I am compelled by my conscience and by my office to act on behalf of the victims until the perpetrators have been punished and justice has been served.
For far too long, not enough was made of the sexual abuse of children and that’s why we’re in such a predicament today. It must be reported and discussed.
The victims must be validated and the criminals punished.
 State legislators must act to expand the current statute of limitations for child sex abuse.
It’s not going to be easy. But, it is up to me and to all elected state officials, regardless of their affiliations, to act with integrity, strength, and righteousness — right now.
Recent studies have shown that one in four girls and one in six boys has been sexually abused, and more than 90 percent are molested by someone they know. And these statistics are known to be low due to a gross underreporting of child sex crimes.
Often victims are unable to come forward until after years of therapy and support, and the recovery phase is frequently preceded by decades of emotional turmoil, substance abuse, etc.
A colleague here in Harrisburg revealed publicly for the first time that she was raped as a young girl at the age of 12. She is now a senior citizen. It took 66 years for this educated, dignified woman to find the strength to share her story and to encourage other victims to come forward.
She is not alone.
We need to open the window and allow the light of truth to shine into this dark place.

Will leaders in prominent Baptist mega-churches like Jack Graham and others at Prestonwood Baptist Church also be compelled by their conscience, at the very least, to act on behalf of the victims until the perpetrators have been punished and justice has been served?

There has still be no admission to the congregation by Prestonwood staff, no outreach to the victims to encourage them to come forward to the police, get help and start healing, nor any remorse for failing to obey TX mandatory reporting laws in 1989 when Prestonwood fired John Langworthy for the sexual abuse of several boys, minors under the age of 17.

This confessed child molester is awaiting trial in Mississippi for 8 counts of felony child sexual abuse of 5 victims that took place between 1980-1984 just before Langworthy was hired by Prestonwood where he served as youth music minister from 1984-1989.


JudyJones said…
It is imperative the window needs to be opened so that victims can have their day in court.
This is the only way to hold child predators and those who cover up their crimes accoutable, and for the full truth to be exposed.
Only then will their be a chance for kids to be safe today.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
"Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" and all clergy.

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