Rep. Schemel offers proposal concerning past child sex abuse

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

In an effort to bridge the gap between conflicting House and Senate proposals addressing past cases of child sexual abuse, state Rep. Paul Schemel unveiled his proposal for a comprehensive solution which avoids costly and time-consuming litigation at a Capitol news conference Monday. 

Schemel has introduced legislation that would create a “Truth and Restoration Commission” to hear testimony from victims as well as the institutions responsible for past abuse. Victims with credible claims would also receive compensation from a special fund created by contributions from the institutions which concealed abusers.

Schemel, a Republican whose district includes Greencastle and Antrim Township, is a lawyer and Catholic. He holds an international diploma in restorative justice.

 “First and foremost, we want to get the truth out. What has happened in the past has to be revealed,” said Schemel. “It would allow victims to be compensated. It would also allow these organizations to be restored and get them out from under this cloud they’ve created because of past concealment of abuse.”

The state commission would have seven members, appointed by the governor, House and Senate, and include an attorney, an accountant and a psychologist, according to a news release from Schemel's office. Compensation payments would be based on a formula that would take into account the nature and extent of the abuse, in addition to any prior settlements and total number of victims. The commission would have a defined tenure of 10 years. “Time is running out. Right now, we have different propositions in the House and Senate and they are irreconcilable,” Schemel concluded. “We need to get somewhere beyond that, which is why I’m proposing something that’s different. We can be creative in coming up with a solution that can give justice to the abused individuals and truly bring restoration.”

A video of the entire news conference is available at www.RepSchemel.com.