Eye on Texas Blog

Insurance Lobbyists Deny Sex Abuse Victims Their Day in Court

Via Alex Winslow, Texas WatchPosted May 4, 2010
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Dr. George Reardon was the chief of endocrinology for St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut for thirty years.  And he is accused of being a serial child molester.  His victims, however, are being denied their day in court by a cabal of insurance lobbyists led by the self-styled American Tort “Reform” Association.

Reardon began working at St. Francis in 1963 and was there until 1993 when his medical license and hospital privileges were suspended amid misconduct charges.  He has been accused of sexually abusing scores of children in his office at the hospital dating as far back as 1964.  Many of the victims were unable to corroborate their allegations of abuse until nearly a decade after his death when a cache of 50,000 slides and 100 reels of child pornography which authorities believe belonged to Reardon was discovered in 2007.

Under current Connecticut law, many of Reardon’s victims are barred from accessing the legal system because of a strict statute of limitations.  This means that the hospital and other institutions that allegedly turned a blind eye to Reardon’s abuse of young children will be allowed to escape responsibility.

In recent weeks, Connecticut lawmakers have been considering a bill to extend the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse in very narrow circumstances.  According to the Hartford Courant, victims of sexual abuse currently have until their 48th birthday (or 30 years after they turn 18) to force their abuser and those who abetted the abuse to answer for their actions before a common sense jury of twelve citizens.  The Courant says “the bill would allow victims of child sexual abuse, exploitation or assault who are 48 and older to sue, with two conditions: someone under 48 must also have filed a lawsuit against the same defendant and with similar allegations, and there must be physical or documentary evidence to support the claim.”

In other words, the bill would have aided these victims of a serial child molester who, without the recently discovered photographs and films were not able to prove their allegations of abuse, have been unable to hold their abuser or the institutions that abetted his abuse accountable.

This is what you call real tort reform – legislation that helps people who have been harmed.  It would seem as though this legislation would sail through, right?  But, no.

Pressure from outside lobby organizations led by the self-styled American Tort “Reform” Association and the insurance industry forced lawmakers to pull the bill down in the waning days of Connecticut’s legislative session, saying they were concerned about changing the statute of limitations even in this narrowly defined way.  I doubt you’d be surprised to know that ATRA’s membership includes insurance, tobacco, and drug companies, not to mention the polluters and Wall Street banks – all of whom are more interested in their bottom line than providing a modicum of decency and justice for individuals who were sexually assaulted as a child.

Victims groups in Connecticut are rightfully appalled that insurance industry profits prevailed over justice and accountability.  We should all be disgusted when insurance lobbyists are allowed to corrupt the process and deny even victims of sexual abuse their day in court.

I know they aren’t, but ATRA and their cohorts in the insurance lobby ought to be ashamed of themselves.

By the way, you might be wondering what the law is in Texas.  In our state, children who are sexually assaulted only get until their 23rd birthday to take their abuser to court.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  Check it out for yourself here.

I wonder how the insurance industry would feel if our Legislature tried to adopt Connecticut’s current standard of thirty years past your 18th birthday.  Maybe we should find out.

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