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Shattuck case becomes focal point in bill to aid sexual abuse victims

Madeleine Baran of MPR links the Shattuck sex abuse case with legislation moving in St. Paul: “The child sexual abuse allegations involving a Shattuck-St. Mary's teacher have become a focal point for state lawmakers backing a bill that would make it easier for victims of past abuse to file lawsuits against institutions that failed to protect them. … Lobbyists who represent religious organizations in Minnesota are scrutinizing the bill that would eliminate civil statutes of limitation for child sexual abuse. The initial draft introduced in the House would have eliminated all civil statutes of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse. Rep. Simon later amended the bill, in response to concerns from religious groups, to create a different process for victims of past abuse.”

Never mind overwhelming popular opinion ... Jim Ragsdale of the Strib reports: “Gun-control advocates in the Minnesota House on Tuesday abandoned efforts to require background checks for virtually all gun purchases, part of a compromise they hope will expand background screening to sales at gun shows. … They finished the deal in private meetings while a packed committee room waited for them to take up the issue on Tuesday night. Instead, [DFL Rep. Michael] Paymar gaveled the House Public Safety Committee meeting closed after less than a minute, leaving the crowd confused, and said he would return later this week with a new bill. ‘We’ve reached an agreement,’ Paymar said after the non-meeting. ‘I think we both have compromised a lot. We have abandoned the universal background checks that I absolutely wanted in this bill.’ But he added, ‘We have an agreement that the gun-show loophole will be plugged.’ ”

This could be entertaining … Laura Adelman of the Lakeville Sun says: “Minnesota State Sen. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) told Sun Thisweek he is seriously considering running for governor and will make a decision about whether to mount a campaign within the next several weeks. ‘I am giving it consideration,’ Thompson said. ‘It seems as though some doors have opened, and I am exploring my options.’ Thompson, assistant minority leader, said he has been encouraged to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014 by many business leaders and constituents.” I wonder if Mr. Thompson’s views on evolution have, um, evolved?

GOP Rep. Jim Abeler … doesn’t like the health insurance exchange law. In a Strib commentary, he says: “Minnesota is about to get a health insurance exchange. It is supposed to help more people get insurance, improve quality and reduce costs. It probably will not. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was passed in Washington, it was done with the members of one party taking over and doing it all their way. In Minnesota, we said we could do better. But when the time came for Minnesota to lead the way, those in one party took over and did it all their way. We could have done better.” And remind us, who regards "compromise" as a kind of mortal sin?

Sens. Klobuchar and Franken got in on the cross-examination of the airline CEOs Tuesday. Kevin Diaz’ Strib story says: “[C]oncerns came into focus Tuesday in a Senate hearing led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who challenged top executives from American Airlines and US Airways to defend what she called the ‘great wave of consolidation in the airline industry’ that saw Delta Air Lines swallow Eagan-based Northwest Airlines in 2008. … Klobuchar wants a General Accountability Office (GAO) study of airline consolidation that will look at the broad economics of the industry, not just the antitrust implications. … skeptics of industry consolidation, including Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., are calling for the department to administer a particularly close review.”

The GleanMaya Rao of the Strib notes the serious influence of unions on Minneapolis politics these days. “Union leader Dan McConnell helped wrangle backing from the Minneapolis City Council for a new Vikings stadium in one of its most contentious votes in recent history. Now, council members are trying to win support of their own from the DFL party he chairs. The Minneapolis DFL’s endorsement could prove pivotal this year, with all 13 council seats up for grabs and an especially competitive mayor’s race that lacks an incumbent for the first time in two decades. The twin roles of McConnell, who is also business manager of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council, don’t seem to trouble City Hall veterans.”

For those of us troubled by the thought of “Wisconsin” and “public nudity,” this is good news. Todd Richmond of the AP says: “Wisconsin authorities announced Tuesday they will shut down one of nation's most popular nude beaches on weekdays after struggling for years to curtail sex and drugs on the sandbar and surrounding woods. Nudists from around the country have been traveling to the public beach on the Wisconsin River near Mazomanie, about 25 miles northwest of Madison, for decades as word spread that prosecutors in ultra-liberal Dane County wouldn't go after anyone for showing skin. But visitors haven't stopped at just stripping down. They've been slipping off into the woods for trysts and drugs. Authorities say that's crossing the line.”

Those snow drifts outside? The grit howling through the air? The gray, crusted slush? It’s called “spring.” Paul Huttner at MPR is upbeat: “[I]t happened quietly and without fanfare. When the sun crossed the equator at 6:02 AM CDT this morning, spring began in the northern hemisphere … The extra daylight and solar energy is important, because eventually it will heat up the northern hemisphere and bring us milder temps. It's just a painfully slow process for many Minnesotans this year. Hang in there … warmer days and melting snow are truly close at hand.” I demand a written guarantee.

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Comments (2)

Guns and health

Another win for the NRA, another loss for the public. Another display of spinelessness from some legislators, lack of intellectual honesty from others.

Meanwhile, as long as Rep. Abelar is complaining about the lack of compromise, I hope he'll remind us again why the recent Republican-controlled legislature did absolutely nothing to prepare the state for the insurance exchange written into the Affordable Care Act, and how his party routinely compromised during its two years of running the show in St. Paul.

Perhaps my perspective

has been tainted by a career defending civil litigants, but I believe 6 years after the age of majority is sufficient time in which to bring claims of sexual abuse.

Frankly, this is not about seeing the abuser punished. It is about money. While there's nothing wrong with compensation for the victims of abuse, whether from the abuser or any organization legally responsible for the abuser's actions or its own actions, a very old case is very difficult to defend, particularly if one or more of those involved is dead or no longer accessible. Stale claims carry with them the strong possibility of being incapable of being properly defended. This is why we have statutes of limitations at all, whether civil or criminal.

If I may be a bit cynical, I suspect that the reason for this push is that many victims opted not to pursue claims for various reasons, including but not limited to the fact that such claims were more difficult to prosecute in the past and less acceptable to the public at large. With the discoveries of the past decade or so, the claims are easier to prosecute and the public is much more amenable not only to the prosecution of the claims but to large awards.

Some may say that such organizations deserve to be punished, if only financially, for their transgressions. Sadly, that perspective carries with it a presumption of guilt not only for the acts which they have been shown to committed, but for all those acts of which they are or may in the future be accused.

Finally, I suggest to you that neither Mr. Anderson, and others who would profit from these cases, nor the Roman Catholic church and other prospective defendants are reliable sources of information on this subject.