"The lawsuit was dismissed in 2013, primarily because [of] the statute of limitations."
It's not every day that you meet a real hero (or heroine). Dee and I had the pleasure of doing just that a couple years ago. We drove to Charlotte to meet a Christian lady we had met through the internet – Pam Palmer. What a pleasure to have lunch with her at the Billy Graham Library! We knew her story well, and it was incredible to put a face with a name. Pam's boldness made quite an impression on us that day, and we continue to be amazed by her courage.
Last summer we had the pleasure of seeing Pam again when a group of us gathered just outside of Washington, D.C. We hope to do it again soon!
Pam Palmer is a tremendous advocate for sex abuse survivors. Just last week she testified before a committee of Maryland State Senators on extending the statutes of limitations on child sex abuse. The session was well-documented. Links to video and contact information are on this Google Doc link:
Here is a summary of what occurred:
Extending Child Sex Abuse Statutes of Limitations:
Pam Palmer testified in favor of MD Senate Bill #668, along with advocates and sex abuse survivors from many different cases, Thursday, March 12, 2015, in front of the Judicial Proceedings Committee of the Maryland General Assembly. This bill calls to extend the civil statutes of limitations on child sex abuse.
Two years ago, the Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit was dismissed. This lawsuit was not dismissed because the victims lost or that their claims were not true—it was dismissed because the victims were not within the current, short statutes of limitations. This case did not even have the chance to be heard in court because of the current law. Extending the statutes of limitations on child sex abuse will protect sex abuse survivors in the future to have their day in court against pedophiles and any person or organization that covers for them. In some cases, an individual cannot get their case prosecuted criminally. The benefit of a civil prosecution is that there is a time of “discovery” where each side is questioned under oath for evidence. This allows the chance for evidence to be heard in court and sometimes a criminal prosecution can then follow.
By extending the civil statutes, victims will have a chance for the merits of their cases heard in a court of law. Often, sex abuse survivors are time-barred by the current, short statutes of limitations to hold individuals and big organizations, such as schools, scouting, camps and churches accountable for their actions. Without legal accountability, guilty individuals and organizations will continue to get away with pedophilia and/or blatant sex abuse cover up. Our children deserve better protection!
Many people are not aware of the devastating, long-term effects of child abuse and we encourage you to listen to these testimonies. It will help you understand the importance of this proposed law.
You can view the testimonies at the link below.
**Please use discretion when you watch this, some of language is very graphic**
Video of Entire Testimony— MD Senate Bill #668 begins 04:12
(If video does not load automatically, check pop-up blocker settings or click the refresh icon to the right of the video box)
· Pam’s Testimony starts — 04:29;
· Opposing Arguments starts– 05:08 — Their weak arguments were challenged by many senators.
Pam Palmer's testimony can be read here. (We have also included it below).
Testimony given by Pam Palmer:
Good afternoon. Thank you for taking the time to hear my concerns. My name is Pam Palmer and I am the mother of a sex abuse victim. My family was involved in a class action lawsuit against an evangelical mega church located in Maryland called Covenant Life Church. (CLC) The lawsuit was dismissed in 2013, primarily because the current statutes of limitations. Our case included 11 plaintiffs, 6 of whom were abused in Maryland. The legal complaint alleged a multitude of heinous sex abuses, including a pedophile ring, covered up over the course of 30+ years by pastors of CLC and their parent denomination, Sovereign Grace Ministries.
In May 2014, a former CLC youth leader, Nate Morales, was convicted of molesting multiple teenage boys during the 1980’s. Former CLC pastor, Grant Layman, admitted under oath that he knew about the sex abuses done by Morales, should have reported them, but did not. In addition, Layman admitted on the stand, that in 2007 a group of CLC pastors discussed the Morales abuses and chose not to alert authorities. When these CLC survivors (some in their 30s and 40s) overcame the psychological effects of their abuses enough to hold these pastors accountable, they were unable to have the merits of their case heard in court because statute time clock had run out.
Although the alleged sex abuse cover up at CLC is an egregious example, unfortunately it is not unique. Minimization of sex crimes within protestant churches is rampant across the United States. However, sex abuse cover up is found not only in religious institutions. Just this past month, local news reported that the Montgomery County Public School system had covered up sexual offense investigations of over 20 employees. The very organizations to which we entrust our children for care have repeatedly failed to protect our children.
The result? Sex abuse survivors often face life-long psychological trauma, unable to deal with it until their 30s, 40s or even 50s. Sex abuse survivors have a high incidence of psychological disorders and suicide attempts often needing years of therapy. When the abuse is incestuous, there are complex family issues involved that can delay reporting. When there is pressure to not report from religious leaders, it can take decades for victims to break free from indoctrination and come forward.
In conclusion, I am appealing to you to add a window within the law for past sex abuse crimes and to extend the statutes forward to compensate for the difficulty survivors face in dealing with their trauma. In addition, I am offended that the only group testifying against this bill are representing the Roman Catholic Church, who through neglect are responsible for the rape of thousands of children and are now denying (attempting to deny) justice for my daughter to protect their own assets.
Our friend Todd Wilhelm has also commended Pam for standing up for those who have been sexually abused. This is what he had to say in a post:
Pamela Palmer is a friend of mine. Her daughter was sexually abused while attending Covenant Life Church. At that time Covenant Life Church was the flagship church of Sovereign Grace Ministries. If you have been following the sexual abuse scandal in Sovereign Grace Ministries, what some have called the largest scandal of its kind in Evangelical Christianity, you will know that there was a civil suit filed by 11 victims in this case. The lawsuit was dismissed due to the limited statute of limitations which exists in the state of Maryland.
Pamela Palmer recently testified in favor of extending the statute of limitations in front of a committee of the Maryland Senate.
I extend my thanks to Pamela Palmer for her tireless and courageous efforts on behalf of her daughter and all victims of sexual abuse. She is a fighter and because of people like her justice is being extended for the powerless.
On Wednesday we will be continuing our series on abusive homes for girls. While many of these horrible places have been shut down, some continue to operate. We are hoping that the actions Pam Palmer has taken on behalf of victims will encourage others to come forward and be a voice for those who are being (or have been) abused, regardless of the setting.
Thank you Pam for being a tremendous inspiration to all of us!
Lydia's Corner: Leviticus 14:1-57 Mark 6:30-56 Psalm 40:1-10 Proverbs 10:11-12