A Look Back, a Look Ahead: What’s Changed for Sex-Abuse Cases in the Last 20 yearsJuly 4, 2013
By TIM KOSNOFF
Two years ago, Simon and Schuster published “The Sins of Brother Curtis,” a book about a case of mine from the 1990s, which stretched for five years, start to finish. It was a transformative time for me. Not only was it my first civil case representing abuse victims, it also launched me in a completely different area of the law, from working as a criminal defense attorney to exclusively representing childhood sexual abuse survivors. That was nearly 20 years ago, and I haven’t looked back. I was among the first of a handful of attorneys in the country to identify themselves as a child sexual-abuse lawyer.
Since the book’s publication, Lisa Davis’s expose about child sexual-abuse in the Mormon Church has garnered well-earned recognition. The book has helped raise awareness about the ability and willingness of leaders of powerful institutions to tolerate and protect pedophiles within their ranks.
The book continues to be discovered, as it should be. This past spring, reviewer Julie Smith reposted a review:
“When Jeremiah [Scott] was young, he had been repeatedly molested by a Mormon Church elder. The church ‘bishop’ had been notified, but nothing was done. In uncovering the truth behind Jeremiah’s molestation by Brother Frank Curtis, [Tim] Kosnoff and his team also uncover a decades-long (1977-1991) string of molestations by Frank, in three different Mormon wards, as well as the now grown-up 20 other victims, one of them having spent time in a juvenile facility, himself accused of molestation. They also uncover what appears to be a pattern of cover-ups and misdirection on the part of the Mormon leadership that allowed this type of molestation to occur with other youth leaders.”
My law firm will take due credit for our involvement in this case. However, the lasting value of Davis’s work has been in helping shine a bright light on the grim realities of child sexual abuse.
Much has changed since the time of the Scott lawsuit. Our firm continues to represent victims who now number in the thousands. Our efforts have resulted in winning more than a quarter billion dollars for victims.
Moreover, due to several factors, victims are becoming ever more emboldened to come forward and seek legal help in bringing cases to court.
There are several key reasons for this increasing willingness. One is from the publicity itself. Few adults in the United States and beyond can possibly be unaware of what has transpired pertaining to child sexual abuse within major organizations such as the Mormon and Catholic churches, the Boy Scouts of America and sports programs such as Penn State. On our Facebook page, we update each week day some of the major developments related to child sexual abuse.
Beyond this, victims also have been able to appreciate the strength in numbers they can summon when they come forward. The more who are willing to go after those who have victimized them, the greater the chances are that others will follow.
One advantage victims have is the increasing awareness at seemingly every level of government that lawmakers must expand – or, indeed, abolish – statutes of limitation so that pedophiles can’t simply stall and avoid being made to face their accusers.
There has been, inevitably, strong opposition by members of the organizations cited above, even though resistance to statute-of-limitation reforms inevitably brings such institutions yet more bad publicity. Recall, for example, the recent change of papacy for the Catholic Church. Before, during and after the change of leadership, more often than not the news stories from around the world had to do less with general aspects of Pope Francis’s background, more about what he intends to do about sexual abusers of children.
As for the Boy Scouts, the organization has been plagued for much of the past year with the exposure of damning documents generally referenced as “The Perversion Files.” These records have been hidden away for the better part of a century. It was long past due these found their way to news web sites from coast to coast. I’m gratified to have helped play a part in bringing these important documents to the public by spending several years creating a database chronicling the Scouts knowledge of pedophilia among its volunteers.
Beyond American shores, authorities in many major countries are diligently making their own public attempts to deal with histories of abuse, from Australia to India to Great Britain.
Where does all this leave Kosnoff Fasy Stronger than ever. Our commitment continues as far as identifying victims and winning for them the justice they deserve. One goal is changing the culture in which secrecy prevails and crimes against children are allowed to continue in the shadows. That’s one reason why I welcome frequent exposure to a broader audience courtesy of television and print news media.
What began with the Lisa Davis book will not end for Kosnoff Fasy. Those who have been victimized by pedophiles should strongly consider coming forward to seek the justice they deserve. We’ll stand with you.
Our attorneys are highly experienced in child sexual abuse law and offer free initial consultations to potential clients. We are also willing to assist other attorneys in sexual abuse cases. Please call 206-257-3590, or email us directly. Conversations will be kept confidential, and even if you are unsure about a lawsuit, often we can direct you to the assistance you need. You will be treated with compassion and respect.
Toll free: 855-529-4274
Tim Kosnoff, direct: 425-837-9690
Dan Fasy, direct: 206-462-4338
Kara Tredway, direct: 206-453-0579
Kosnoff Fasy, Seattle office: 206-257-3590