Hon. California State Senators and Assembly Members please introduce draft bill (RN 1803892) to reform California's clergy "penitent communication" privilege statutes to align with appellate court decisions by February 16, 2018.
Since 2018 is an election year, this bill will help voters become more informed about politicians' positions on changing societal and institutional cultures by reforming California statutes to prevent child abuse or child sexual abuse, or civil statute of limitation reform in California in 2019.
This bill is intended to increase public safety, prevent abuse survivors from being re-traumatized in religious disciplinary meetings, prevent religious leaders from using "undue influence" to manipulate individuals and discourage reporting of abuse and neglect, and reduce court costs passing judgment on overly broad interpretations of clergy "penitential communication" privilege that attempt to shield a religion or clergy from not fulfilling their duty to report abuse and neglect in California.
February 9, 2018
PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING:
National media attention of child sexual abuse within respected and influential institutions was first made during the 1980’s and has continued into the 21st Century. Civil litigation lawsuits have been filed against institutions such as archdioceses of the Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, the Mormon Church, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, and USA Gymnastics.
Most news reports describe how victims were sexually abused; institutions’ or organizations’ responses to abuse allegations, such as covering up the abuse; award payments to victims; or the victim or abuser. In comparison, the news media wrote far fewer articles about how to change cultures in institutions, organizations, corporations, or in society to stop abuse or sexual harassment.
Recently the news media is reporting more about sexual harassment and abuse allegations by celebrities and politicians. Can child abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace be more effectively prevented?
One effective approach would be for cultures to change so that individuals are encouraged to report abuse or sexual harassment to local law enforcement to investigate instead of doing internal investigations. Better awareness training would help individuals decide sooner to file reports. Tougher penalties for colluding to cover-up criminal behavior would also help.
Grass root movements are forming to raise awareness of politicians and the news media about legislative ideas to reform statues to help prevent abusers from abusing more than one victim. One such movement is Stop Child Abuse! Advocates for Reform and Safety (SCAARS).
The SCAARS facebook page www.facebook.com/SCAARS.CA documents the efforts of a small group of advocates who are trying to reform California statutes to prevent child sexual abuse.
SCAARS.CA advocates are dedicated to reforming statutes to increase public safety by helping institutions prevent child sexual abuse (and other forms of abuse). Raising awareness about the adverse effects of "undue influence" and reforming statutes are key to helping change societal, institutional, organizational, and group cultures.
"Undue Influence" has been investigated by Mr. Steven Hassan, M. Ed., LMHC, NCC for over 35 years. Mr. Hassan developed the Behavioral, Information, Thought, and Emotional (BITE) control model to help identify what is "undue influence" and how to overcome its effects. Mr. Hassan's BITE model should be used to expand the legal definition of "undue influence" to include how individuals are manipulated with BITE control techniques in society, institutions, and groups.
"Undue influence" has been used in common law for generations, but has not been applied to California’s mandated reporting or civil litigation statutes. Its definition in probate statutes includes influence by person(s) in a position of authority by using deception, lying, coercion, physical threats, or violence to influence an individual to be taken advantage of by a perpetrator.
By expanding the definition of "undue influence" and reforming statutes to overcome its effects, child sexual abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, and other forms of abuse, such as sexual harassment or abuse, can be more effectively prevented.
Since the beginning of 2014, advocates, who later helped form SCAARS, contacted staff members of Congress about helping non-profit institutions prevent child sexual abuse by revising the Tax Code without success.
Starting in July 2017 advocates started contacting members of the California legislature to reform mandated reporting and civil litigation statutes. In a November 2017 meeting with legislative and committee staff members, a small measure of success was achieved when staff showed interest in 1 of 16 proposed legislative ideas. That meeting also inspired the creation of a legislative idea to reform the Evidence Code.
In January 2018 Senator Jackson's office submitted a legislative request to the California Office of the Legislative Counsel to write a draft bill to narrowly define clergy "penitent communication" privilege in Subsection 11166(d) of the Penal Code that was based on information in SCAARS' Fact Sheet 11. Hopefully, Senator Jackson will introduce the draft bill in the California Senate by February 16, 2018, to reform clergy "penitent communication" privilege in California's Penal, Evidence, and Welfare and Institution Codes.
The intention of the draft bill is to align California's statues with case law, increase public safety, prevent subverting of the criminal justice system, prevent abuse survivors from being re-traumatized in religious disciplinary meetings, prevent religious leaders from using "undue influence" to manipulate individuals and discourage reporting of abuse and neglect, and reduce court costs to overcome overly broad interpretations of clergy "penitent communication" privilege to shield a religion or clergy from not fulfilling their duty to report abuse and neglect.
If that draft bill is introduced, it will help advocates of SCAARS to influence legislative staff members and politicians to introduce additional bills in 2019 based on the other 15 fact sheets and a few more fact sheets that are being investigated.
Since 2018 is an election year, asking politicians to comment on how they would prevent child sexual abuse, child abuse, or sexual harassment and abuse would help voters make more informed decisions at the ballot box.