Bill Cosby and the FMSF
Bill Cosby was finally charged last month with aggravated sexual assault. Those who wondered why no charges had been brought, even after 35 women told their stories to New York magazine, learned that the statute of limitations protected Cosby in many jurisdictions. But not Pennsylvania.
We would all do well to remember who lobbied against extending the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. When the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from victims of sexual abuse in 1994, there was one witness who testified in opposition: Pamela Freyd of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Mrs. Freyd expressed the concern that extending the statute of limitations “may create more tarnished reputations” (Senate Judiciary Committee, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; May 24, 1994, p. 5). She urged the committee to amend the bill to “encourage and emphasize alternative means of resolving these matters other than courts” (Id., p. 7).
We now know how well “alternative means” worked for children who were abused by Jerry Sandusky and for those abused under the supervision of the Catholic Church. We also know that justice would never have been done in those cases if Mrs. Freyd’s position had prevailed.
The simple fact is that the FMSF, through Pamela Freyd, lobbied against legislative changes that would increase accountability, fairness and public safety around child sexual abuse. Instead, they were more worried about the possibility of “tarnished reputations.” The New York Times published an editorial last month encouraging all states to join the 16 states that have eliminated the statute of limitations for sexual assault. As they pointed out, statutes of limitation for rape “undermine justice for survivors.” Which do you think is more important, protecting reputations or promoting justice for rape victims? We know where the FMSF stands, and it is not on the side of justice for victims of rape.