It may be legal

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I have just posted the following articles and want to ensure everyone sees them:

04 April 2013: “Sex assault victim resists gag order” & related article

True enough the above deals not with a predatory Roman Catholic priest but an ex-Anglican priest and scoutmaster, but the subject matter is very relevant to all victims of childhood sexual abuse.

In this instance Raymond C. Jacob, a victim of former Anglican priest and boy scout leader Ralph Rowe, has decided he would rather break a gag order imposed on him during a settlement than remain silent.  In violating the gag  Jacob runs the very real risk of being ordered to repay the monies.

I have trouble with gag orders.  Deep trouble.  As Rob Talach says, they benefit the perpetrators.  I would add that, if/when there is a cover-up surrounding the abuse, a gag order also benefits those who have aided and abetted the cover-up.

So, Raymond Jacob is stepping into the fray here.  I wish him well.   He is drawing attention to what I for one see as a terrible injustice in the system, an injustice in which yet again it is the legal ‘rights’ of the molester which trump those of his victims.

I am interested in people’s thoughts on this.

Note too that just over a year ago I posted some information regarding plea bargains and ‘sweet deals’ and Ralph Rowe.

The system has served Ralph Rowe well, has it not?   He has eluded how many charges?  he has eluded how much time behind bars?

And, yes, the icing on the cake – he has used the system – legally! – to impose a lifetime gag on many of his victims,  victims who had struggled for years to finally break their silence and address the abuse they endured at this man’s hands.

From a legal perspective, something is seriously wrong with this whole picture.  This may be legal, but it surely is not ethical.  Another cruel instance of re victimizing the victims while looking after the ‘best’ interests their molester.

Enough for now,

Sylvia

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9 Responses to It may be legal

  1. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    It’s interesting how you word your sentence “This may be legal, but it surely is not ethical”.
    Our judiciary is not an ethical organization, and they will claim that they must work within the limits of the law, even though Justices and Judges have incredible leeway when it comes to interpreting the law, and any precedent-setting cases they chose to use (note the word “chose”).
    My little pea-brain works on a simple principle, and it’s called the KISS formula (Keep It Simple Stupid) If a gag order is part of a settlement, or a judicial finding, and it is accepted by the Plaintiff and the Accused/Respondent, I think it should be honoured. If the gag order is not to be honoured, I believe that should be addressed at the time of finding, not later after a settlement/finding is completed.
    I don’t like gag orders either, because they DO facilitate criminal predators and their enablers maintaining their dirty little secret. I wonder sometimes if this situation comes about to protect private pensions/benefit plans, etc., into retirement?
    However, the law is just that – Its the LAW. If we don’t like it, or any interpretations thereof, we must lobby our lawmakers to change it. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t have a lot of faith in the integrity and credibility of our lawmakers right now when it comes to ethical thinking, but if we as a society refuse to abide by the law, we become not much better than our criminals and their enablers! Mike.

  2. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    One last little thing (my 2 cents worth) that could apply to these gag orders and our lawmakers/judges is something Thomas Jefferson said many moons ago – “When people of a society fear their government, there is tyranny. When a government fears it’s people, their is democracy”.”
    I think this quote has a lot of merit, especially when it is applied to this case. Mike.

  3. Sylvia says:

    Are you saying Mike that in the instances of gag orders there is democracy?

    My problem with gag orders is that there instances whereby (1) a molester retains his anonymity because his victim is gagged, and (2) facts related to recycling of and/or enabling of molesters are concealed. This means that children are or may be placed at risk. I don’t see how that can be construed as either healthy or democractic?

    Yes, in this instance Raymond C Jacob signed off on the gag. I get the impression however that he either was or felt he was coerced to sign? (“Jacob said he never wanted to sign the deal that bought his silence more than a decade ago.”) If he didn’t want to sign it, why did he sign it? Was he coerced?

    I can’t tell from the media coverage if Raymond is one of the victims who was unable to have charges laid because of the ‘sweet deal’ afforded Rowe, but I think that is probably the case? IF that’s the case then he is unable to pursue justice through the criminal process (because of the ‘sweet deal’), and when he opted the civil route he found himself bound by a gag order and locked into silence.

    How can it be that in a society where the magnitude of the child sex abuse crisis is known can we have ‘legal’ deals which gag victims and protect the predators?

    Yes, “they” could well go after Raymond because he did indeed – albeit reluctantly? – sign and agree to the confidentiality clause. I hope that doesn’t happen, but…?

    The bottom line here I suppose is this: why should anyone be entitled to forbid a victim of child sex abuse from talking about the abuse?

  4. Sylvia says:

    One more thought: What of freedom of speech?

  5. My pea-brain worked overtime last night at work over this matter1 I appreciate the questions Sylvia.
    I would like to think that there is democracy at work here in the fact that we are allowed to make choices for ourselves. Make no mistake here, I don’t like gag orders either! My point is that a victim is given the choice between a gag order and a favourable finding/settlement, or an unfavourable finding/no settlement with the freedom to speak out about the case. It’s a difficult and tough decision to make, but at least we have the choice.
    As I said in my first blog, I completely agree that gag orders facilitate and hide these criminal sexual predators, and allows them to go off into the sunset with full pension and no worries that someone might find out their dirty little secret. It sickens me deeply.
    This whole idea of gag orders in sexual abuse cases proves to me, and I am sure all others on your blog, that ethics and morals are absent in our judiciary. It’s all about the LAW, isn’t it? The law also in some cases provides a wall for our judges/lawyers to hide behind when they make their findings/rulings, and provides an even bigger wall for the likes of Karla Homolka and her ilk.
    My fear in all of this, should some of us decide to go against a judicial ruling, would be that WE lose our own integrity and credibility in not honouring a finding/ruling.
    It’s an absolutely horrible situation to be put in, as if victims haven’t suffered enough already, but at least we have that choice! We can take the money and shut up, or we can tell them to stuff it and tell the whole world what a sick bunch we have in our judiciary, bosom buddies with their sexual predators and their enablers.
    I need to hear back from you, or anyone else, on my feelings and ideas. To sum this up in a nutshell we all have choices to make (myself included) and I believe that we are lucky to have the option of choice. I personally will not look up to our judiciary looking for answers to moral or ethical questions. I must look within and find the courage to maybe make an unpopular choice. At least I have that option, and that is the gist of my blog. Mike.

  6. Sylvia says:

    You’re right Mike, as it stands a victim confronted with such a gag order has the option to refuse to sign off and remain silent. That may mean another year or two to go to trial, but, if he/she is properly counselled by his/her lawyer, he/she does have the choice.

    I suppose my thing is that I just don’t believe that silencing a victim should be an option, nor do I believe it’s a healthy option for any victim. How did defence lawyers manage to squeeze such demands into settlement agreements? I can see the why. I can’t see how they have managed to get away with it.

    I do not in any way condemn those who sign off on such an agreement, but I do believe that in due many who have been silenced by such one will come to regret it.

    There are differences too in the nature of the gag. Most if not all settlements provide a gag on the financial aspects, but the victim is left free to talk about all other aspects of the abuse and lawsuit.

    Some settlements include gags on details of the actual abuse. If the molester is still alive, many victims erroneously believe that such a gag also prevents them from going to police to have the perpetrator charged criminally. In Canada that is illegal. If your molester is still alive no settlement can prevent you from going to police to pursue criminal charges . Anyone who believes they are bound in such manner should go to police.

    My problem Mike is that there are cases where molesters are alive who can not be identified because victims are gagged. And there is many a pay-off conducted behind closed diocesan doors in which victims are gagged – not illegally, but still gagged and still thinking very much that they are not allowed to go to police.

    I don’t think any sexual predator, priest or otherwise, should enjoy such protection, nor do I think that it is right that in so doing children and the vulnerable are wilfully placed at risk.

    When the molester is dead, well, he’s dead. There is no fear then that he can lay a wayward hand on another child, is there? What difference does it make then if the victim talks? Why a gag in such a situation?

    I suppose there is fear that publicity will give strength to other victims to speak up? Is that good cause to gag a victim?

    And, of course, as we have so often discovered, things aren’t always what they seem or what they were said to be. And so, for example, there is no recourse when, for example, a diocesan spokesman announces that all allegations of clerical sexual abuse have been properly handled in the past, and a gagged victim who was run through mill and made out to be a liar by Church officials can say not a word to set the record straight.

    I don’t know what the answer is Mike, I just don’t believe that any victim should ever be obliged/compelled/encouraged to sign off an a settlement which robs him/her of his/her voice.

    Nor do I know what prompted Raymond Jacob to take the stand he has taken, any more than I know the ins and outs of his allegations. The only thing I know is that Raymond is gagged and he wants to talk. I get the impression that he is well aware that he is taking a risk in challenging the gag order. Without doubt there are better ways to bring change, but this is a start – it certainly caught my attention and gave me grounds to express my concerns. Did Raymond realize that he would one day regret being gagged? I don’t know. I do think that emotions run high during civil proceedings, and they tend to drag on and on, and often the thought is that once it’s all over and done with everything will be fine, and there is probably little to no thought on the lifelong impact of a gag.

    But, bottom line, and what I think we need to ponder: why do lawyers want to gag victims in the first place? Why is it allowed? Why rob victims of their voices?

  7. Sylvia, I’m really not trying to be devil’s advocate here. I’m glad that you see my point about the freedom to chose, and as a result of this the freedom to speak out if we want.
    I see and agree with your points! Gag orders, whatever the content and reason for same, seem to be designed around money and ease of coming to a ruling or a finding. It almost seems like a form of blackmail (I’ll give you this if you help me out and keep your mouth shut)
    As time goes on, we continue to hear about old cases in the church that were handled “out of court” so to speak. A tremendous amount of hush-money has been handed out down through the years to silence victims of abusive priests and for whatever reason, to protect their “good names”. I still can’t get my head around a bishop’s thinking that silencing a sexual abuse victim will preserve a catholic priest’s reputation and good standing in the community and the church. This type of “thinking” is morally and ethically bankrupt, and I remain concerned about the spirituality and character of these bishops.
    We had at least three of them right here in Pembroke with their heads stuck in the sand (O’Brien, Smith, and Windle). All three of them had intimate knowledge of sexual abuse cases right under their noses, and the only one that even remotely addressed these cases was Windle, and he was trying to pass the buck to the Vatican.
    I would hope that in the future gag orders will not be part of these procedures. I completely agree with you that they (gag orders) only facilitate a lie. They enable the bishops to hide their twisted collars in other parishes, with the obvious possibility that the perps will continue to ply their abuse trade in anonymity. Mike.

  8. Terri Framel says:

    Victims live in silence for years in the abuse in thier homes. Abusers, perpatrators, and criminals, thrive in the silence of thier victims.

    We ask the victims to break free of the silence, then the criminals are allowed to silence them saying the only way they will get restitution is if they promise to keep thier abuser or perpetrator protected? What message does that send society?
    How can the victims heal? Should we not help each other more?

    Should the system they entrust protect the victims or the criminals?

    The entire infrastructure of a life is often destroyed leaving the victim, stunned, numb, hypervigilant, indigent, betrayed and perplexed as to why they are expected to “choose” to not be a victim. Give them a time machine and this can be done. Give them revictimization abuse and it cannot. They are victims.

    It’s time to give that word back its status and in doing so, give respect to the abused. Respect comes in the form of providing help. An empowering, compassionate approach to those who have been stripped of dignity through repeated abuse in courts of law, criminals, or by their partners, and begins with recognizing and defining the situation of the victim. The victim heals by speaking.

    Terri Framel – victim breaking free from the silence – ready to tell our stories and those of other victims.
    World Relief for victims of crimes and abuse
    http://about.me/terriframel

    • John MacDonald says:

      Well said my friend, well said. That would be why I always say to any victim that finally steps forward, to keep their voice now that they have found it, and never let anything or anyone knock them back into silence!!!

      John

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