April 27, 2005

The Sin That Keeps on Giving

Cleveland Scene Weekly


The victims rose, one after another, for eight full hours, telling stories of their childhoods, when the most trusted people in their lives raped them.
Sodomized them.

Groped them.

Lied to them.

Under the intricate gold leaf of the hearing room, beneath the oversized portraits of dead statesmen and the bank of senators peering down from a high bench, people who had never before talked in public took the microphone and described the abuse they had suffered at the hands of Catholic priests. Their families stood behind them and cried.

As the tears fell, something amazing happened up on that bench. The senators listened. Ohio law currently bars people over the age of 20 from suing someone who abused them when they were children. Senate Bill 17 raises the age to 38. It also creates a "look-back" period: For one year after the law's passage, anyone victimized after 1970 would be allowed to sue.

Most of the senators entered the room that March morning either neutral or opposed to the bill. This, after all, is the Ohio Senate, where the Republican majority has done its best to stop injured people from suing.

But as testimony wore into the evening, the audience watched as senators grew still, leaned forward, pushed tears from their eyes, and changed their minds. "It was the most amazing thing I've seen in my legislative experience," says Senator Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township). "Usually these hearings are pretty perfunctory, and the decisions are made beforehand in a back room. But this time, you could tell it was real."

Posted by kshaw at April 27, 2005 04:51 PM