The Baltimore Sun

Change laws to bring more abusers to justice

I want to thank the 7-year-old abuse survivor and her family for doing what they needed to do to make sure Michael Phillip Hein Sr. was convicted on charges of sexual abuse ("Man convicted of abuse," Jan. 10).

Mr. Hein is not unlike most sexual predators; he knew exactly how to "groom" his child victims and knew to warn her not to tell anyone.

We all should also be thanking the two teenage girls who witnessed Mr. Hein kissing the young victim and reported what they saw to the police. These girls should be considered heroes for doing the right thing.

The reality is that, on average, a child molester will molest someone 117 times during his or her life. And considering that Mr. Hein is 62 years old, we should all be asking how many other victims of his crimes are out there who were to afraid to report the crimes.

These victims also deserve their day in court - not only so they can tell their stories and see justice served but so they may name sex offenders we are now unaware of and help prevent other children from being harmed.

These are just a few of the reasons that it is so important for the state to lift the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits for victims of sexual abuse and to allow a window of opportunity for older victims of childhood sex abuse to name their offenders.

As citizens of Maryland, we need to do whatever we can to ensure we stop the other Michael Heins out there from continuing to molest our children.

Vicki Polin, Baltimore

The writer is founder and CEO of the Awareness Center Inc., an international Jewish coalition against sexual abuse and assault.

Callous legislature lets problems fester

If the Maryland legislature cared about the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland would have a bottle bill ("Political rhetoric revs up Democrats for session," Jan. 14).

If the Maryland legislature cared about highway safety, Maryland would have a law against using a cell phone while driving.

If the Maryland legislature cared about street crime, Maryland would reform its drug laws.

If the Maryland legislature cared about the cost of gas, Maryland would have a better public transportation system.

If the Maryland legislature cared about little kids shooting playmates with Daddy's gun, Maryland would have tougher handgun controls.

So who does care?

Hank Bullwinkel, Upper Falls

Mayor was wronged during Obama's visit

I watched Barack Obama's speech in Baltimore on Saturday and I noticed, as I'm sure everyone did, that Mayor Sheila Dixon was not mentioned at the event ("Dixon's presence shadowed," Jan. 18).

I thought that this was very odd, not to mention disrespectful; after all, she is still the mayor of Baltimore and she is presumed innocent until proved guilty.

Unless it was Ms. Dixon's choice to remain silent and not be seen at this event, someone has done her a terrible injustice.

As mayor, it should have been Ms. Dixon's duty to introduce our president-elect.

Venus Harris, Baltimore

Peaceful power transfer defines our democracy

In addition to the historic occasion of the inauguration bringing us the nation's first African-American president, I marvel at and am inspired by the civil transfer of power from one administration to another in this country ("The President: Obama calls for 'a new era of responsibility,'" Jan. 21).

No matter what was said during the campaign, no matter how different the ideologies or the ideas, when the new president is inaugurated, we are one family - Americans.

Although I strongly disagreed with most of the Bush administration's policies, I must give credit to President George W. Bush for his cooperation with the incoming Obama administration and the resulting smooth transition. Truly, this is something to celebrate.

President Barack Obama is a problem-solver, not an ideologue.

And in these difficult times, I hope Democrats and Republicans will now join forces to support what works, not necessarily what expresses anyone's partisan point of view.

As responsible citizens, let's call on our leaders to seek a more perfect union.

David L. Pollitt, Forest Hill

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