Monday, June 7, 2010

GOP Sen candidate: protect reputations of abusers, their employers

Ron Johnson is more concerned about protecting the reputations of abusers -- and their employers -- than the rights of those who have faced abuse.

Johnson, the Republican Party-endorsed candidate to oppose Sen. Russ Feingold, testified earlier this year against a proposal in the state legislature that would have greatly extended the statute of limitations for those who had been abused sexually.

The Catholic Church -- itself a part of many sexual abuse cases (including Wisconsin) -- opposed this measure. And when a member of the Catholic community came directly to Ron Johnson about the proposed measure, Johnson, who donates large sums of money to Catholic schools (though he himself is a Lutheran), had to display his disgust as a businessman to the state legislature personally.

"I believe it is a valid question to ask whether the employer of a perpetrator should also be severely damaged, or possibly destroyed, in our legitimate desire for justice," he told a legislative committee in January.

The Child Victims Act (which eventually didn't pass) would have allowed victims of abuse an indefinite time to make a claim against their abuser. Those who have already passed the statute of limitations (after the victim turns 35) would have been given an additional three years to make a claim following the bill's passage.

That Senate candidate Ron Johnson has a problem with such a bill speaks volumes -- not only is he more concerned with protecting the reputations of abusers, but he's actually more worried over the employers of abusers rather than those who have survived abuse!

One has to wonder, if Johnson would support suppressing the testimony from a person who had faced abuse if it ruined the reputation of the Church itself (which many believe it already has). Would Johnson try to fight to suppress that person's claim? Would he vote in a way to do so on the national stage, as a U.S. Senator?

Now, is Johnson's concern legitimate? Yes -- there CAN be negative effects that stem from an allegation of abuse. But what we have to ask ourselves is what we consider more important: protecting a business's image or protecting the community that has to deal with a child predator, not to mention protecting the rights of those abused? I would hope that, if the employer truly were innocent in the situation, most could see past blaming them for the deeds of one of its employees. Ron Johnson, however, doesn't seem to believe people have the ability to do that.

Aren't Republicans supposed to be pro-crime enforcement? Why allow perpetrators of sexual abuse the right to escape punishment, to live among our children, because of state limitation laws that protect pedophiles? For Johnson (and other Republicans who support his views), it's because their pro-business attitudes outweigh any concern for the community whatsoever, even if it has to do with law enforcement or protecting the lives of children.

Is this the sort of family values that Wisconsin Republicans want from their leaders? Will Wisconsin voters support a candidate that would rather protect the reputations of businesses rather than those who have lived through abuse? Anyone who opposed such a law should be ashamed...including Ron Johnson.

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