An Ohio law that caps compensation of victims of childhood sexual abuse is facing a challenge in the Ohio Supreme Court. The focus of the case is Jessica Simpkins, who was raped by her pastor, Brian Williams of the Grace Brethren Church in Sunbury, when she was 15-years old. Williams went to prison. In a way, so did Jessica. Childhood sex abuse damages caps re-victimize victims.
While a Delaware County jury gave her over $3.5M for pain and suffering, her lawyer John Fitch said it was reduced to $250,000, which is currently the mandated cap. Jessica now suffers from PTSD and experiences flashbacks to her rape several times a week.
She said, “It seems like I can’t go a day without thinking of it.”
Fitch believes the cap is bad public policy saying, “The child gets very little out of the case under this current law. The larger question is why are we capping damages against those who commit such violent and heinous acts.”
It’s all about money. Ohio Chamber of Commerce president Andy Doehrel insists that businesses need certainty when dealing with such cases. The Chamber has been a strong proponent of tort reform and damages caps.
Doehrel said, “If you don’t have that type of certainty, one – you can’t cover it with insurance and, two- you won’t be able to stay in business. Because as soon as a case hits and you’ve based it (the law) on outliers that have huge awards, companies can’t survive that kind of thing.”
Boo-frickin-hoo. I should care whether a business (in Jessica’s case, a church) survives after one of its trusted representatives rapes a child? Grow up, Mr. Doehrel! I’m willing to bet if Pastor Pedophile ever laid hands on your children (if you have any) that your tune would change quickly.
While the law makes exceptions for “catastrophic injuries,” cases like Jessica’s don’t qualify.
Fitch said, “We think that if you rape a child that’s a catastrophic injury to the child even though the child doesn’t have a scar or some physical deformity. Abusing a child is a bad thing. We don’t want to discourage the rights of the child to pursue the abuser or those who have acted in concert with them – that’s bad public policy.”
Well said, Mr. Fitch! Anyone who knows a rape victim or victim of childhood sexual abuse knows that the “invisible” injuries left by such traumatic events are often far worse than any physical injury.
The case is set for December 15. I’ll follow it and report on the results.