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Sex abuse, particularly of children, is a crime which any rational person would wish to prevent. However, when an individual’s loyalties and responsibilities to an institution put them at odds with preventing sex abuse, it is far too often the institution which takes precedence. This is the grim phenomenon of institutional complicity. It is a plague which, sadly, permeates institutions of all types, be it a school, hospital, sports team, church, military, or government agency. It also permeates countries as a global issue.
I have interviewed dozens of survivors who suffered under an abuser who was protected by an institution. The survivor’s expectation of the institution is simple: to be protected. Yet, time after time, these survivors found that it was the good name and reputation of the institution which was protected rather than themselves. Many survivors express that their anger towards those who enabled the abuse is greater than their anger towards the abuser.
In this submission I propose that the answer is to criminalize the enabler. By enabler, I mean an individual who knows that sex abuse is occurring and yet fails to inform the appropriate law enforcement agency. I have come to the conclusion that the harm caused by sexual assault enablers does rise to the level of criminality. The harm inflicted by the enabler’s deliberate choice to abandon those in their power to protect is a plague which should be addressed by every government.
Guiora, Amos N., "Sexual Assault Enablers, Institutional Complicity, and the Crime of Omission" (2021). Utah Law Faculty Scholarship. 302.