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Critic of stricter sex abuse laws left out some key facts

LETTER WRITER Paul Shannon wrongly depicted support for repeal of the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse as “madness’’ and supporters as operating under “mob mentality’’ ( “Voice of reason muffled over child abuse bill,’’ March 30). Under the guise of supporting “evidence-based’’ policies and opposing hysteria around sex offenders, Shannon concocts a false scenario in which repeal would result in police arresting a person accused of a sex crime 40 years before “without any significant corroborating evidence.’’ The fact is that repeal of the criminal statute of limitations would have no retroactive impact.

Shannon has a long history of defending child sexual abusers, publicly likening the trial of former priest Paul Shanley to the Salem witch hunt. Shannon is now associated with the group Reform Sex Offender Laws, which fights against sex offender laws and for the abolition of sex offender registries - citing, Shannon has said, the “unnecessary pain caused to [sex offenders]. . . and the irrelevance of these laws to public safety.’’

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The group and its allies seek to gain credibility by aligning themselves with emerging valid concerns about the need to reform certain sex offender policies - for example, establishing differential responses to adolescent versus adult offenders. However, many of these apologists also support changing the laws of consent, promoting the notion that sex between adults and children can be consensual and, if not violent, does no harm.

Shannon writes of “evidence-based’’ policies. The serious, long-term damage to children who are sexually abused and exploited has been overwhelmingly documented. So why doesn’t Shannon’s frequent call for compassion for sex offenders extend to victims, too?

Robert Curley

Somerville

Jetta Bernier

Director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children

Boston

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