DISCLOSURE. If you want to know the real reason why statute of limitation (SOL) reform has never gained traction, you need look no further than the insurance industry. Insurance? What does that have to do with child sex abuse?
For centuries corporations, institutions and organizations have purchased insurance to minimize their risk with regard to cargo, property, death, accidents, injuries, harassment and medical malpractice. Well there’s a relatively new insurance policy being marketed to businesses that have employees who interact with children. It is called, Abuse and Molestation Insurance Coverage.
STRATEGY. Insurance companies assert that a policy such as this is necessary to protect against a disgruntled parent making a false and baseless claim of sexual misconduct, or inappropriate contact of a child by an employee as a result of the employer’s lack of supervision, negligence in hiring or failure to report suspicious behavior and previous allegations or offenses. In reality FALSE accusations are rare and the real reason they created these abuse-specific policies is because their general liability policies did not specifically rule out sexual misconduct and they were forced to make large payouts for Catholic child sex abuse lawsuits in the mid-1980s.
Like any business, religious institutions (all denominations), scouting organizations, schools, and daycare centers, among others, are employers with target-rich environments for pedophiles and they purchase sex-abuse insurance to protect their assets from the bad behavior of their employees.
TACTICS. These abuse-specific policies don’t come cheap. In fact these policies are a huge revenue stream for insurance companies – a veritable cash cow. Is it any wonder insurance companies believe that it’s in their best interest to lobby legislatures to keep the statutes of limitations in place and as short as possible in order to minimize their exposure? They bank on SOLs expiring well before victims are ready to come forward. Make no mistake, abuse and molestation insurance coverage is big, BIG business. As a point of reference, insurance companies generate (overall) $1 trillion in revenue every year.
To prevent hefty payouts, insurance companies proactively educate their clientele to thwart survivor’s claims in every way possible, over and above pressuring lawmakers to suppress child sex abuse SOL reform legislation. In order to wield uncompromising control, the insurance industry spends over $125 million per year to subsidize the most powerful lobbyists in the U.S. As a result, insurance lobbyists have the ability to work in stealth behind closed doors and seldom have to take a public position on any issue that would portray them in an unfavorable light.
ALTERNATIVE. When the statutes of limitations for child sex abuse are repealed, the law of economics will prevail. Granted, insurance companies may experience some increased liability short term, but long-term profits would skyrocket. Why? In reality EVERY private and public enterprise – with employees who interact with children – would demand coverage. More premiums – more profits. Insurance companies win.
What’s more, to ensure fewer claims (as they have done with health care and automobile safety), the insurance companies would shift their focus to proactively educating their clientele on how to institute protocols that will greatly reduce negligence in hiring; lack of suitable supervision; and inappropriate contact of a child by an employee. Employers would readily comply with removing known predators from positions that interact with children, and immediately report allegations of sexual misconduct to authorities, or risk losing coverage. Employers win.
By embracing SOL reform the enterprising efforts of insurance companies would precipitate personal responsibility by vigilant employees who would be highly-trained to detect signs of child sexual abuse and publicly identify more perpetrators thus preventing molestation of subsequent victims and reducing the number of future claims. Children win.
By preventing subsequent incidence of child sexual abuse, insurance companies would become a force for good by eliminating the ongoing impact that survivors have on their families and communities, such as: teen pregnancy, proliferation of STDs, substance abuse, violence, depression, anxiety and suicides, to name a few. Society wins.
CONCLUSION. So you see, everyone wins by repealing the civil and criminal statutes of limitations. Unfortunately the cabal of insurance companies, religious institutions, teachers and their unions, trial lawyers and civil rights groups are neither ready nor willing to change the status quo. Instead they will continue to direct the full force of their resources to defeating all manner of SOL reform. It is therefore up to the will of the people to transform this issue by supporting the ballot initiatives.