When your district is rife with crime, hold bad guys responsible

Rep. Diane Harkey: Please take a look at the crimes and cover-up in YOUR district before voting no.
Rep. Diane Harkey: Please take a look at cost of crimes in YOUR district before voting no.

Yesterday, CA Assembly Appropriations Committee Vice Chair Diane Harkey voted no on important crime victims legislation—even though a similar 2003 bill exposed horrible abuse in her own district.

I don’t believe it was a malicious act against victims, I just think she doesn’t know about the child sex crimes and cover-up that have thrived in the 73rd Assembly District.

SB 131—the California Child Victims’ Act, a bill that gives crime victims the opportunity to use the civil courts to seek justice and accountability—has stalled in House Appropriations Committee.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

A key question for the committee is whether new lawsuits would strain an already overburdened court system. At the height of the clergy abuse scandal in 2002, the legislature signed off on a similar one-year window. Hundreds of people filed claims, many of them against the Catholic Church.

Diane Harkey (R-Dana Point) was one of the no votes. She represents the district that is the home of St. Edward’s in Dana Point—home of some of the worst perpetrators in OC history. We wouldn’t know about the scope and scale of the crimes against her constituents were it not for for a similar, but broader, 2003 civil window bill.

And since this was a vote in Appropriations, she should be weighing the “costs” to the court system against the millions of dollars in state-wide and district-specific social services that have already and are currently being spent to care for the victims in her district alone. Let wrong-doers pay for their crimes, not taxpayers. The costs to the courts are minimal in comparison.

Let’s take a look at St. Edwards:

Here are the known predators – It’s a “Who’s Who” of OC offenders.

  • John Lenihan (who, despite the arrest chronicled in this story, is a free man)
  • Denis Lyons (was finally sentenced when a younger victim came forward)
  • Gerald J. Plesetz (he got a 16-year-old Mater Dei student pregnant and signed the adoption papers in San Diego)
  • Michael Pecharich (he told parishioner there was just one “boundary violation.” We later learned that he and diocese officials were not quite telling the truth)
  • Henry Perez
  • Sigfried Widera

Without the 2003 window, Michael Pecharich would still be in ministry, Denis Lyons would never have gone to jail, and we never would have learned the whole truth about Sigfried Widera, who was sent to OC after an arrest for “sexual perversion” in Milwaukee.

I think that Ms. Harkey should know what has been going on in her district, don’t you? I think that the state of California would be saved a whole lot of money if wrong-doers are forced to do the right thing.

What Can You Do?

Fortunately, SB131 supporters have time to re-present to the committee. But in the meantime, what can YOU do?

Write members of the House Appropriations Committee and let them know you support the bill. 


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