An Open Letter to All Child Sex Abuse Victims Fighting for Justice: David Slayed Goliath

It is a simple fact that you have been silenced and shut out of the courts by powerful forces. Before you had the power to join forces and speak up, this was just the status quo. Now you have that power, and it is clear what is right and what is wrong. That is why armies of organizations, survivors, and people of good will are now fighting tooth and nail to get you what you deserve: a day in court against your perpetrator and institutions that violated their duty to protect you.

The forces arrayed against you are entrenched elites that are experienced in using their power to serve their interests.   They are politicians, bishops, ultra-Orthodox Jewish organizations, businesses, Republicans, some prosecutors, and, of course, every child predator on the planet in these positions or connected to them. They are the Goliath to your David.

Right now, legislation is pending in New York and Pennsylvania that would modestly improve access to justice for some of you.   Other states have done significantly more, like Delaware, Hawaii, and Minnesota. A few states have taken smaller steps, and some baby steps, while four states are mired in what amounts to a wall against justice: Alabama, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York.

Despite the modesty of the proposals on the table in New York and Pennsylvania, the powers-that-be are railing wildly against you.   The political details are different in each state, but it is a fact that men who hold the power in each state could get these bills passed this week if they wanted to.

If these bills don’t pass this week with the end of each session coming to a close, it will be because your elected representatives made the immoral decision to choose entrenched power and influence over what is right.

Both states are balanced on a knife’s edge, and could go either way at this point.

I write this to remind you that David slayed Goliath.   The story in the Old Testament is worth re-reading at 1 Samuel 17.

Like David, you hold the power that can slay the oversized elites.

Marci Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the United States’ leading church/state scholars and is a Fox Family Pavilion Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Academic Director and President of CHILD USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to interdisciplinary evidence-based research and tracking of medical, legal, and psychological developments to prevent and deter child abuse and neglect, which she co-leads with Dr. Steven Berkowitz, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and Dr. Paul Offit, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She holds the Paul R. Verkuil Research Chair at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, through 2018.