*Of Course* The 'OK Groomer' Contingent Voted Against Protecting Child Abuse Survivors
This week, the House passed the Respect for Child Survivors Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation developed in response to the FBI’s mishandling of the Larry Nassar/US Gymnastics team investigation.
The bill was initially introduced in the Senate by Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and would require "trauma-informed experts" to be present at any FBI interview of a child reporting abuse or trafficking in order to prevent retraumatization.
“As we work to support survivors of child sexual abuse and trafficking, we need to provide law enforcement with the training and skills they need to investigate these crimes and help victims,” Senator Amy Klobuchar said in a statement. “Our bipartisan legislation will ensure law enforcement officers can partner with child advocacy centers to use the most effective techniques when conducting these critical investigations.”
A statement explaining the bill on Sen. Chris Coons's site reads
Under this legislation, victims would be interviewed by those with the expertise to appropriately address and treat their trauma. This bill would require the FBI to use multidisciplinary teams when investigating child sexual abuse cases, child sexual abuse material cases, and child trafficking cases, including in situations where the interviewed victim is no longer a child. These multidisciplinary teams would be composed of appropriate investigative personnel, mental health professionals, medical personnel, family advocacy case workers, child advocacy center personnel, and prosecutors. Members of these teams have expertise in their field, can provide trauma-informed care, and are required to stay current on industry training.
The use of multidisciplinary teams would prevent the retraumatizing of victims, and the information-sharing and case review provisions would ensure accountability so cases are not dropped or forgotten in the future. Investigations would be reviewed by a multidisciplinary team at regularly scheduled times to share information about case progress, address any investigative or prosecutorial barriers, and ensure victims receive support and needed treatment. This bill would also provide a dedicated source of funding for Children’s Advocacy Centers, which coordinate the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases.
One would think that this would be the kind of legislation that those Republicans who have been accusing LGBTQ+ people of being "groomers," who have been trying to position themselves not as bigots but as crusaders desperately trying to protect children from being sexually abused, would be excited to sign onto. Given how much they care about "the children."
As it turns out, no. Indeed, they were pretty much the only people voting against the bill.
- Andy Biggs - Arizona's 5th District
- Dan Bishop - North Carolina's 9th District
- Lauren Boebert - Colorado's 3rd District
- Mo Brooks - Alabama's 5th District
- Michael Cloud - Texas's 27th District
- Andrew Clyde - Georgia's 9th District
- James Comer - Kentucky's 1st District
- Rick Crawford - Arkansas's 1st District
- Byron Donalds - Florida's 19th District
- Virginia Foxx - North Carolina's 5th District
- Louie Gohmert - Texas's 1st District
- Bob Good - Virginia's 5th District
- Paul Gosar - Arizona's 4th District
- Marjorie Taylor Greene - Georgia's 14th District
- Jody Hice - Georgia's 10th District
- Clay Higgins - Louisiana's 3rd District
- Ronny Jackson - Texas's 13th District
- Thomas Massie - Kentucky's 4th District
- Tom McClintock - California's 4th District
- Barry Moore - Alabama's 2nd District
- Troy Nehls - Texas's 22nd District
- Ralph Norman - South Carolina's 5th District
- Scott Perry - Pennsylvania's 10th District
- Matt Rosendale - Montana at-large
- Chip Roy - Texas' 21st District
- John Rutherford - Florida's 4th District
- Austin Scott - Georgia's 8th District
- Jeff Van Drew - New Jersey's 2nd District.
It would be terribly surprising if the obsession with "groomers" and pretend war against child sex trafficking were not so obviously covers for their other nonsense. They were used to justify votes for Donald Trump, claiming that he was secretly fighting a war against international Satanic child sex traffickers, and now they're being used to justify bigotry against LGBTQ+ people. They call everyone child molesters now. It's very much their thing.
However. I am not of the opinion that any piece of legislation has the word "victim" in it or that is meant to protect victims in some capacity is automatically a good piece of legislation. I also don't think anyone should automatically assume that all "bipartisan legislation" is good. Some of the worstshitwe'vecome out with has been "bipartisan legislation." Thus, any legislation, no matter how good it sounds and how nice and innocuous it sounds, needs to be looked at skeptically. Particularly when it involves our already not-great justice system.
There are a lot of very well-intended laws that sound very good and are meant to protect victims, but also run roughshod over due process for defendants. Marsy's Law, which in many states gives victims of crimes equal constitutional rights as defendants, is a bad law because it pretty much requires that the defendant be presumed guilty and allows "victims" to withhold evidence that could exonerate them. "Victims" is in quotes here because among those who have declared themselves "victims" under this law are police officers who have killed people while on duty.
With this legislation, however, as long as the experts are not preventing anything from being asked so much as controlling the way it is asked, I don't see a lot of room for violating anyone's civil liberties. I would very much like to believe that there is some room between "ignoring due process" and "treating traumatized children horribly" or treating anyone who reports a crime horribly. Are we that great at finding that line? Not always. One would hope that, in practice, this law would be narrow enough in scope to keep either of those things from happening.
My one concern would be the inclusion of people who are not mental health experts in these multidisciplinary teams, if they are going to have any effect on the statements given. It would be best to avoid a Kee MacFarlane-type situation, in which people who have a particular agenda try to influence the outcome of these cases. I also wonder if declaring people to be victims before a defendant is convicted conflicts with the presumption of innocence. I'm not opposed to the legislation at all, mind you, I just think these are things that would need to be addressed prior to it being implemented.
That being said, I sincerely doubt that the reasons these creeps voted against the bill had anything to do with the kind of concerns I might have about civil liberties and due process. We can imagine it's because they want to deny President Joe Biden any kind of "win," or because of their "defund the FBI for oppressing the poor January 6 patriots" kick.
Unfortunately, there's no way to know, because they're literally not saying. This is not unprecedented, as many of these same people, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, voted against the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022 without explaining why they did that, either.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse