Lives of Consequence-Fighting Sex Abuse

I am honored to that last week Hobart and William Smith Colleges recognized me as a “Life of Consequence” for the work I have done fighting sex abuse.

http://www.hws.edu/alumni/remarkable/index.aspx

Below are profiles of Hobart and William Smith alumni and alumnae who are leading lives of consequence. Check back each Friday for a new alum.
hws.edu

Children Endangered By N.C. Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The North Carolina Religious Freedom Restoration Act Endangers Children

Let’s be clear. The pending North Carolina Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is markedly different from the Indiana version which has recently been in the news.  While every state’s but Mississippi’s RFRA requires the State to have significantly burdened the exercise religion by anyone or entity, North Carolina will only require that a “burden”  was created. The number and types of government action that could be claimed as burdens is limited only by the imagination of lawyers.

The proposed North Carolina Restoration of Religious Freedom Act (RFRA) will increase the likelihood that a child will be sexually abused. This is due, in part to the fact that House Bill 348 will make it much easier for an individual and/or legal entity to claim that the government is infringing on their free exercise of religion.
In the thirty years I spent as an attorney representing survivors of sex abuse, one of the most common theories relied upon was that the institution is responsible for its negligent hiring. The essence of this theory is that the institution failed to conduct an adequate background check, which would have revealed that prospective employee’s unfitness to work with children. If North Carolina passes the proposed RFRA, organizations will undoubtedly assert the defense that their hiring decisions were guided by their faith and were not subject to state scrutiny.
Sound farfetched? Consider what happened last year in Kentucky. Roy Yoakum, a pastor at the New Gospel Outreach Church in Kentucky, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a fourteen-year-old boy at church. He was hired despite the Church knowing that he was a registered sex offender. The Church justified the hiring of Yoakum by stating “We’re firm believers in the Bible, so if God’s forgiven you, then we’re in no position to treat you otherwise”. If Kentucky had enacted a comparable RFRA, to the one proposed in North Carolina, the Gospel Outreach Church’s attorneys would surely have raised the defense that the hiring of Pastor Yoakum necessarily involved issues of faith that would burden the free exercise of religion. After all, if God’s forgiveness trumps a prospective employee’s history of sex abuse, then the claim of negligent hiring would become extinct.
This law will also allow religious institutions to resist producing incriminating documents in sex abuse cases. The argument will certainly be made that most, if not all, of their documents are inextricably linked to the exercise of their religion and therefore beyond the power of a court to order that they be produced. In practically every case that has ever been brought against the Catholic Church related to sex abuse, church documents about prior complaints lodged against the perpetrators and the Church’s response to these prior reports, have proven critical in order to hold a Diocese responsible.
Similarly, House Bill 348 would weaken the scope of our child abuse reporting laws. For example, sexual abuse within a family or church is often not reported as required. Those that fail to do so would now be able to assert that their religious beliefs required that such misconduct be handled without the involvement of outsiders

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We need to implement policies and laws that protect our children from sexual abuse. House Bill 348 will do the opposite.

Seth Langson, Child Advocate and Attorney

Dedicated to Preventing Child Sex Abuse

Gaston County Coach Accused of Sexual Abuse

It seems that every week there is another coach charged with sex abuse of a child. Whatever screening process and background checks that are being done are clearly not working.

http://www.wbtv.com/story/28664885/former-gaston-co-school-coach-charged-with-taking-indecent-liberties-with-student

Seth Langson, Child Advocate and Attorney

Dedicated to Preventing the Sex Abuse of Children

 

Children’s Alliance

I am pleased to report that I am now serving as a member of the leadership committee of the Children’s Alliance. I encourage everyone to support them and it’s member organizations as they  tirelessly advocate on behalf of children in the community.

Seth Langson, Child Advocate/Attorney

Important Announcement About My Law Practice

After thirty years of representing sexual abuse survivors, I have decided to devote most of my efforts to child advocacy, instead of litigation. I hope to help people understand the interplay of various North Carolina statutes that create gaps that endanger children and other vulnerable people. I anticipate speaking to and working with more individuals and organizations on ways they can better prevent sexual abuse.

I will continue to help survivors deal with the criminal justice system and understand their options as to how to proceed. This will include helping the abused find an attorney, regardless of where the abuse occurred.

As examples of my new focus, I recently agreed to assist a new organization in Charlotte by serving on its board of directors and agreeing to be its vice president. I also helped a new sports organization improve their sexual abuse policies.

It has been a great run practicing law with Marshall Karro and Al Sellers of Karro, Sellers and Langson but I will be on my own in 2015. My new phone number is 704-968-9529 and for now, my e-mail address of slangson@kasela.com remains unchanged. My website and Facebook pag Seth Langson Law on Facebook will continue.  Changes to reflect my new focus will be made on all social media sites  within the next few days..

I am grateful to all the therapists, attorneys, law enforcement personnel and district attorneys with whom I have worked. I could never have run my sexual abuse litigation practice without the remarkable assistance of my paralegals Vicki Norman and Franiece Thresher.

I have been humbled by the opportunity to represent sexual abuse survivors for most of my career. Their bravery and trust in me, serve as inspiration every day.

 

Please contact me if I can be of any assistance.

Sexual Abuse of Native Americans

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/12/28/a-man-of-healing-a-saga-of-suffering/

The sexual abuse of Native Americans has been a major problem for decades. This is but the latest example.

Seth H. Langson, Attorney/Child Advocate

Dedicated to Protecting Children

New Orleans Police Ignored Sex Abuse Victims

Another reason why so many sex abuse victims to not go to the police.

www.nytimes.com/2014/11/13/us/new-orleans-police-special-crimes-unit-inquiry.html?ref=todayspaper.

 

Seth Langson

Advocating for Sex Abuse Victims for Thirty years

 

Changing North Carolina’s Child Abuse Reporting Laws

This is one of my top priorities for 2015. Under our existing laws, child sexual abuse only has to be reported if the perpetrator was a “parent, guardian custodian or caretaker”.. Abuse by coaches, clergy, other relatives and by many others is not mandatory.

WSOC TV interviewed me for a story they ran today.

http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/special-reports/gaps-laws-could-lead-unreported-child-sex-abuse/nhyCB/

At the end of that link there is a PDF of my analysis of the child abuse reporting requirements in every state.

Seth H. Langson, A Voice for Victims of Sex Abuse

Child Advocate and Attorney