State Legislature Will Reconsider Bill Extending Statute Of Limitations On Child Sex Abuse Cases; Failed Twice Before

November 19, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The state legislature will reconsider a controversial bill extending the statute of limitations in sex crimes that was highlighted by the case of a former doctor at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, a key lawmaker said Friday.

The bill was officially withdrawn last session, ending an emotional debate at the state Capitol for this year. The measure’s chief proponents couldn’t get enough support in the House of Representatives and the Senate for the second straight year, but the issue could arise again when the next session begins in January.

State Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, the influential co-chairman of the judiciary committee, said he could not predict the precise outcome next year, but said the committee will review the bill again.

“I would certainly initiate it and push for it,” Lawlor said. “I would do it again.”

Lawlor commented after St. Francis offered settlements in cases involving the late Dr. George Reardon with plaintiffs who are older than 48 years old, which is the current maximum age under the law for victims to file a civil lawsuit.

The bill in the legislature has clearly been influenced by the heavily publicized allegations against Reardon, who worked at St. Francis Hospital from 1963 to 1993. The bill, though, never mentioned either the hospital or Reardon by name.

“The reason for the bill is a broader policy issue than this one case,” Lawlor said Friday. “Some of the pressure to do it would disappear if there is some kind of settlement.”

The Roman Catholic Church had been pleased when the bill failed earlier this year.

“I’m happy that it is withdrawn because we thought it was a horrendous bill,” said Michael Culhane, a spokesman for the Connecticut Catholic Conference, said at the time. ”The retroactivity of the bill is just terrible. It would be my hope that an effort would be made to resolve these issues, but I’m not part of that process.”

The Catholic bishops had said publicly that passage of the bill could have had a devastating financial effect on the church and parishes throughout Connecticut because both the hospital and the Archdiocese of Hartford have been named as defendants in various lawsuits.

“It is a fact that there are seven or eight dioceses across the country that have filed for bankruptcy because of this issue, so that’s a possibility, not a fact going forward,” Culhane said.

Despite the bill’s failure last year, Lawlor said the proposal had been updated from an earlier version.

“We had fine-tuned the bill a lot last year,” Lawlor said. “I still think it’s an important change to make in the state law.”

Capitol Watch

The Lengths Iran Will Go to Cover Its Abuse Of Women

November 16, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

These are the lengths that Ahmadinejad’s Iran will go in order to cover up the Iranian abuse of women in general and the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in particular:

New developments in the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old Iranian woman and mother of two who faces the death penalty for adultery and murder.

On Monday, Iranian state TV aired what it says was a statement from Ashtiani in which she called herself a sinner and said she had been “deceived” by lawyers.

On Tuesday an Iranian court official revealed that two German journalists who allegedly tried to interview her son and her lawyer were facing espionage charges.

“These two German citizens had come to Iran claiming to be tourists but their actions in Iran and in Tabriz, providing information and staging propaganda, indicates that they had come for spying,” the head of East Azarbaijan provincial court, Malek Azhdar-Sharifi, was quoted as saying by Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.

Taken together, the two developments suggest the extreme extent to which Tehran is willing to go over the Ashtiani case, which is proving to be a humiliating blemish on the Islamic Republic’s already battered international image.

But Iran goes even further-apparently falsifying evidence:

Like in previous broadcasts of her alleged confessions, Ashtiani’s face was blurred in the footage. She made accusations that fit squarely with Iranian hardliners’ constant refrain that Iran has a fine human-rights record, and that international concern over Ashtiani’s fate is all part of some Western conspiracy to defame Iran.

The seven-minute interview marked the third time Ashtiani, or someone purporting to be her, appeared on television to confess her guilt. She was originally sentenced to death by stoning for having an extramarital romantic relationship, but Iranian authorities have recently sought to recast her as a murderer, saying she was complicit in her husband’s killing five years ago. She is reportedly facing death by hanging now instead of stoning.

Some Iranian legal experts have found Ashtiani’s previously publicized TV appearances puzzling and have cast serious doubt over her earlier confessions.

Why would Iran hide the face of the woman apparently confessing? It’s not to hide the identity of the woman-after all, everyone knows who Ashtiani is. Unless it is not Ashtiani at all who is confessing here.

The Ashtiani case is only one of the reasons that the US proactively saw to it that Iran was blocked from joining UN Women-not that Iran is alone among Muslim countries where woman are abused:

(Hat tip: Israel Matzav)

Unfortunately, the abuse of women in the Muslim world is just one more area where the UN has turned a blind eye.

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Daled Amos

Will the New GOP House Majority Address TSA Screening Abuse?

November 16, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Maybe somebody in Washington is listening to the growing outcry:

In addition to being large, impersonal, and top-heavy, what really worries critics is that the TSA has become dangerously ineffective. Its specialty is what those critics call “security theater” — that is, a show of what appear to be stringent security measures designed to make passengers feel more secure without providing real security. “That’s exactly what it is,” says [Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.” “It’s a big Kabuki dance.”

Now, the dance has gotten completely out of hand. And like lots of fliers — I spoke to him as he waited for a flight at the Orlando airport — Mica sees TSA’s new “naked scanner” machines and groping, grossly invasive passenger pat-downs as just part of a larger problem. TSA, he says, is relying more on passenger humiliation than on practices that are proven staples of airport security.

Domestic Abuse Victim: I Had ‘Sexual Encounter’ With ‘Sexting’ Former DA

November 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

New court documents from the Wisconsin Department of Justice show that one of the state’s witnesses against former District Attorney Kenneth Kratz was a woman who alleged that in 1999 she had a “sexual encounter” with Kratz at her home, while he was handling her domestic abuse case against her husband.

There are reportedly five women who have accused Kratz of behaving inappropriately during his time as DA, including several women who claim he sent them sexually suggestive text messages. Another woman claimed Kratz invited her on a date to an autopsy.

Kratz was scheduled for a court hearing on October 8, but resigned before he was due in court.

Kratz, who is now facing charges from the Wisconsin DOJ, is also being sued by Stephanie Van Groll, who originally came forward with allegations against Kratz. Kratz later admitted to sending Van Groll text messages while handling her case, including one that said: “Are u the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA…the riskier the better? Or do you want to stop right now before any issues?”

The new documents show that a confidential informant might have testified on October 8, had Kratz not resigned. The Fond du Lac Reporter in Wisconsin reports:

In the document filed by Thomas Storm, an assistant state attorney general, the confidential informant would have testified about Kratz’s “sexual conversations in e-mails and on the phone,” the sexual encounter, his comments about his ability to influence the custody dispute for her children in a divorce proceeding and her concerns about not wanting to upset him for fear of not getting custody of her children.

Kratz’s attorney Rob Bellin says this is just part of a “smear campaign” by the prosecution, and that “the contact (between Kratz and the unidentified woman) was months after her husband’s case was closed” and his “understanding is she told the Department of Justice that everything was consensual.”

Full coverage of Kratz here.


The Bishops And Child Abuse

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

An election and a test.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Bishops And Child Abuse

November 11, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

An election and a test.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Gay Parenting Study Reports Zero Cases Of Abuse By Lesbian Moms

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The Williams Institute today reported (PDF) that a small study of the adolescent children of lesbian mothers showed no reported incidents of abuse by either their parents or another caregiver.

The paper finds that none of the 78 NLLFS adolescents report having ever been physically or sexually abused by a parent or other caregiver. This contrasts with 26% of American adolescents who report parent or caregiver physical abuse and 8.3% who report sexual abuse. According to the authors, “the absence of child abuse in lesbian mother families is particularly noteworthy, because victimization of children is pervasive and its consequences can be devastating. To the extent that our findings are replicated by other researchers, these reports from adolescents with lesbian mothers have implications for healthcare professionals, policymakers, social service agencies, and child protection experts who seek family models in which violence does not occur.” On sexual orientation, 2.8% of the NLLFS adolescents identified as predominantly to exclusively homosexual.

The Williams Institute is part of the UCLA School of Law and has been tracking lesbian-headed families for 24 years. Read their complete study. (PDF)

Joe. My. God.

Dana Perino: ‘Sharia Law Allows For Stoning And Spousal Abuse’ (VIDEO)

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

While guest hosting Fox and Friends this morning, former White House press secretary Dana Perino did a short news break on the Oklahoma Sharia ban, helpfully describing Islamic law for viewers:

“Sharia law allows for stoning and spousal abuse,” she said.


Perino was describing an Oklahoma constitutional amendment, passed by ballot question last Tuesday with 70 percent of the vote, which would prohibit state courts from considering Sharia or international law.

A federal judge yesterday issued a restraining order stopping the state board of elections from certifying the results of the ballot question. Another hearing will be held Nov. 22.


Senator Tom Udall Wants To End Filibuster Abuse: ‘Now Is The Time For Rules Reform’

November 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Earlier this year, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) delivered an address about conservative obstruction at the Center for American Progress Action Fund titled “Deliberation, Obstruction or Dysfunction? Evaluating the Modern U.S. Senate and its Contribution to American Governance.” At the event, Udall discussed what he called the “Constitutional Option,” which he described as the Senate having the ability to alter its rules with a simple majority vote at the beginning of each Congress. Indeed, with record use of the filibuster in the current Senate, an overhaul of the procedure is needed to prevent further obstruction.

A week and a half ago, Udall conducted an interview with Tikkun Daily’s Lauren Reichelt in which he reiterated his support for changing the rules of Senate procedure. He explained once again that all it takes is for 51 senators to vote for a change in the rules for the Senate to change the filibuster right at the start of the session. He concluded, “Now is the time for rules reform“:

UDALL: The first thing for people to really understand about the Constitutional Option is that people are frustrated with the rules of the Senate and I don’t blame them. The reason they’re frustrated is because when we campaigned and when President Obama campaigned, we were gonna do all these great things, make these great changes, move the nation forward, and that’s not happening as quickly as we would want it to happen. So that’s a critical issue — that we’re not getting the change that people want. And so what the Constitutional Option is about is doing rules reform in the Senate at the beginning of a Congress and the crucial thing is that at the beginning of Congress you can set rules with 51 Senators. You can end the debate and you can adopt new rules. Now is the time for rules reform.

Watch it:

In part two of the interview, Udall used health care as an example of why the filibuster should be changed. He explained that if “we were able to refine the rules and reform the rules, I think we would be getting closer to a public option than the bill we passed.” He concluded that “the real issue here is the Senate should be producing on the change the American people want. And the Senate’s broken now, and so I’m trying to lead out on reform.”

This past summer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told an audience at the Netroots Nation conference that “we’re going to have to change” the filibuster in order to end obstruction. And during a recent appearance on The Daily Show, President Obama also hinted that he’d support overhauling the filibuster, telling host Jon Stewart that he would “love” to not have a 60 vote requirement for ending debate and proceeding to a vote on bills. Their sentiments are in line with 50 percent of Americans, who said in a February 2010 CBS/New York Times poll that the filibuster should be changed (44 percent were opposed). Udall has laid out a path for doing exactly that, and it is up to his fellow legislators to choose to use it.


American Crossroads’ Banker Owns Nursing Home Accused Of Failing To Report Abuse

October 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The owner of the bank used by American Crossroads also owns a nursing home that has been charged — by Kentucky Attorney General and Senate candidate Jack Conway — with failure to report the sexual abuse of one of its patients.

The Karl Rove-backed super PAC American Crossroads, as the Washington Post noted today, uses a small Kentucky bank for its financial dealings. Forcht Bank, based in Lexington, Ky., is owned by Terry Forcht, who also owns several other businesses, including a chain of nursing homes.

One of them, Hazard Nursing Home Inc., was charged in August with failure to report abuse after one if its 88-year-old female residents, who has Alzheimer’s, was allegedly sexually abused by a male resident. The home was allegedly told of the abuse in August 2009, but never reported it to authorities.

It was Conway, the Democratic opponent of Crossroads-backed Rand Paul, who brought the charges. The reports of abuse had been highly publicized in the Kentucky press months earlier.

Crossroads has spent $ 1.2 million on anti-Conway ads in Kentucky. Forcht — a major donor who, along with relatives, associates and employees has given $ 1.1 million to political campaigns since 2002 — has given $ 2,400 to Paul, and bundled more than $ 21,000 for the candidate from employees in just the last five days of June, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“It is my hope that today’s charges send a message to nursing home operators and administrators that they have an obligation to notify authorities if a resident is abused while in their care,” Conway said when announcing the charges.

The nursing home and its administrator, Sheila Noe, pleaded not guilty to the charges last month.


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