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Clergy Sexual Abuse

Location: Washington, DC

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE -- (Senate - July 13, 2005)

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, RICK SANTORUM owes an immediate apology to the tragic and long-suffering victims of sexual abuse and their families in Boston, Massachusetts, in Pennsylvania, and around the country. His outrageous and offensive comments which he had the indecency to repeat yesterday blamed the people of Boston for the depraved behavior of sick individuals who stole the innocence of children in the most horrible way imaginable.

Senator Santorum has shown a deep and callous insensitivity to the victims and their suffering in an apparent attempt to score political points with some of the most extreme members of the fringe rightwing of his party. Boston bashing might be in vogue with some Republicans, but RICK SANTORUM's statements are beyond the pale.

Three years ago, Senator Santorum said:

While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.

When given an opportunity yesterday to apologize, he refused and instead restated these outrageous statements. The people of Boston are to be blamed for the clergy sexual abuse? That is an irresponsible, insensitive, and inexcusable thing to say. RICK SANTORUM should join all Americans in celebrating the accomplishments of the people of Boston. Apparently Senator Santorum has never heard of the enormous contributions of our universities and industries to our quality of life, our economic strength, and our national security.

Harvard and MIT have produced 98 Nobel laureates whose work has made an enormous difference in America's strength. Their graduates contribute to industries, Government, their communities, our Nation, and throughout the world. In fact, only a quarter of MIT graduates remain in New England. Their research keeps our Nation secure.

The Pentagon and the CIA, the military, the Energy Department, the Veterans Administration--all turn to MIT and Harvard for technology and strategies to protect our Nation from those who would hurt us, and their research in cancer, children's health, housing, community development, so many other issues, continues to make an enormous difference to the well-being and the health of our children and families.

More than a dozen current U.S. Senators were educated in Boston.

Senator Frist was trained as a heart surgeon at Harvard Medical School. Senator Dole went to Harvard Law School. Senator Alexander went to Harvard's School of Government. Surely my memorable colleagues would not go to a school that is somehow contributing to the downfall of America. No, Mr. President, they went to a worldwide leading institution to prepare them for incredible careers of service and leadership.

Senator Santorum's self-righteousness also fails to take into account the enormous amount of good will the people of Boston demonstrate for the less fortunate. They started the Massachusetts Children's Hunger Initiative, working with leaders in 20 low-income communities to end hunger among children.

Boston's Children's Hospital has been ranked first in the Nation in the past decade for care and concern of sick children.

The quality of life for Boston and its families is rated third in America. Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the Nation.

Massachusetts ranks in the top 10 States in the Nation when it comes to addressing the needs of at-risk or vulnerable children, including our efforts to address low birth weight babies, teen homicides and other challenges to our children. Pennsylvania doesn't even rank in the top 10.

Boston gave birth to America's liberty, and the values that sparked our revolution continue to inspire Bostonians today--love of freedom, dedication to country, and concern for our fellow citizens.

The men and women of Boston have served honorably in our Armed Forces. They fought and died for our country so that their children might live in freedom and opportunity.

The abuse of children is a horrible perversion and a tragic crime, and I am proud that the good people of Boston and Massachusetts were leaders in coming forward, shedding light, and demanding accountability for this devastating violation of children.

Sadly, the sexual abuse of children is a problem throughout the world, and it is not confined in any way to members of the clergy or to one town or one city. Every State in the country has reported child sexual abuse, including Pennsylvania.

On behalf of all the victims of abuse and the people of Boston and Massachusetts, I ask that he retract his unfounded statements and apologize. I think the families of Massachusetts were hurt just as much by this terrible tragedy as the families of Pennsylvania. Abuse against children is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is a horrific, unspeakable tragedy. Sadly, it happens in every State of this great Nation--in red States and blue States, in the North and South, in big cities and in small. The victims of child sexual abuse have suffered enough already, and Senator Santorum should stop making a bad and very tragic situation worse.

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