Legislature must act to ensure accountability in child sex abuse cases

Photo collage of a tower of the Baltimore Basilica, boy holding rosary, man holding photo of teen boy from 70s, Archbishop Keogh High School sign, Sister Catherine Cesnik, and Archbishop William H. Keeler.
Victims seek far greater accountability from individuals and institutions implicated in child sexual abuse investigations. (Laila Milevski/The Baltimore Banner. Original photos by Getty Images, Charles Hewitt/Stringer and courtesy of Netflix./The Baltimore Banner)

I can only speak for myself. We survivors are broken people, each carrying the weight of the unspeakable memories of abuse by our teachers, priests, coaches or Scout leaders.

Each of us processes the news of a new set of victims differently. But when a report comes out, such as the attorney general’s report Nov. 18 that detailed the abuse of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, we all grieve, we denounce God, we shake our fists at the sky. And we cry. It is an awful world when it takes decades for our voices to be heard.

It is a cruel world when, just like our experiences at Key School, there was more than one predator at a time and where victims reported their abuse, only to learn that the person they reported the abuse to was also a predator. It is a heartless world when children are abused for decades as the leaders of those institutions looked away. It is an unfathomable world when the churches and schools that allowed this to happen spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on lobbyists who roam the halls of the State House, making sure that our cases will never be heard.

They are winning the war of attrition. We are dying, and our abusers are dying, and soon there will be no one left to stand and testify to the terrible things that were done to us. The headmasters and cardinals and chairmen of the boards take steps to ensure that they will never have to see the inside of a courtroom if they just fend off any action by the Maryland General Assembly to ensure that abusers are held accountable.

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To all Maryland legislators, stop them, please. When a lobbyist for the Maryland Catholic Conference or the Association of Independent Maryland & DC Schools greets you in the hallway or takes you to lunch, or dinner or drinks, remember, we were children — 8, 10, 12, 14 years old. Children.

Whatever they tell you, it’s about money for them, not justice. It will be 2023 when you convene. Please get this done. We’ve been waiting for our day in court for a very long time.

Carolyn Surrick, Annapolis

Public education under attack with election of conservative activists to school boards

(Capital News Service)

The Banner reporting 25 conservative activists being elected to Maryland school boards is a warning about outside groups with bogus patriotic names infiltrating Maryland school boards with “angertainment” (as it has been described), book-banning, white supremacy curriculum revisions, and other barriers against the free rights of selected students, parents and teachers.

This is part of a national attack on public education, a coordinated and cash-rich xenophobic assault on our greatest resource for the future — young minds.

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Voters in Maryland should be proud of recent election results and a working transition between a Republican and Democratic governor. But we should understand progressive and inclusive work sets us up as a target to right-wing ideologues in Maryland and elsewhere. Marylanders should continue to show that outsider name-calling and demonizing gets in the way of our hard-earned progress and problem solving.

Stan Heuisler, Baltimore