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On Point: Not-so-secret target

Feb 1, 2006 | www.rockymountainnews.com

Colorado Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald says her bill temporarily lifting the statute of limitations on sexual abuse lawsuits isn't aimed at any one group you know, such as the Catholic Church. Of course not. Such special legislation would be entirely out of line and Senate presidents never toy with anything so improper.

Now, skeptics might point out that the only allegations Fitz-Gerald or anyone else seems to mention in relation to her legislation involve the church. And that the only organization already targeted by a smoothly functioning coalition of high-powered plaintiffs' attorneys and victim groups is the church.

But such facts are mere coincidence. Or that is what we are supposed to believe.

The statute of limitations exists for a very good reason, as it happens, having to do with the diminishing reliability of evidence and especially testimony after 20, 40 or 50 years. As a result of such statutes - and every lawmaker has always understood this - there are people free today from every walk of life who sexually abused or molested someone decades ago but who were never held accountable because no one accused them or raised an alarm in time.

Many similar predators undoubtedly thousands who committed crimes have died. As obvious as this reality has always been, Fitz-Gerald and House Majority Leader Alice Madden, her co-sponsor, never before proposed lifting the statute of limitations for sex-abuse suits, let alone authorizing them against an institution when the alleged perpetrator is deceased.

No, the two lawmakers only concluded that justice demands such radical revision in civil law within months of accusations surfacing against two former priests - one dead and one long retired - in the Denver archdiocese involving events from 25 years to a half-century old.

But remember, their bill in no way targets any particular organization. And pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, either.

Road-rage roulette

"It takes chutzpah to say he had the intent to kill," declared the lawyer for Jason Reynolds at a hearing Monday regarding two counts of first-degree murder lodged against his client in an Arapahoe County courtroom.

The attorney, H. Michael Steinberg, is of course only doing his job. He may even be right that Reynolds did not mean to endanger Kelvin Norman when he allegedly pulled in front of Norman on E-470 and slammed on his brakes. This set off a chain reaction that ended up taking the lives of Norman and Greg Boss, who was driving in the other direction, but it's just possible this was a huge surprise to Reynolds. But if so, he is the type of fellow who would also be shocked if someone died after a man loaded a revolver with a single bullet, spun the cylinder, and fired into a crowd.

Forcing someone to take evasive action at high speeds amounts to just another form of Russian roulette.

According to news reports, Reynolds was a road-rage regular, with a history that included several incidents in which he first tailgated another driver and then pulled in front of the vehicle and slammed on the brakes. He even came close to hitting an unmarked patrol car on the evening of his arrest.

"I hope it doesn't seem mean, but he (Norman) got what he deserved and what he had coming," an arrest affidavit said Reynolds told a tow-truck driver after the fatal accident.

Yes, it does seem "mean" to express such sentiments. And criminal. And maybe even homicidal.


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