A New York filmmaker hopes his short film on the lifelong emotional ravages inflicted on victims of clergy sex abuse will persuade lawmakers to support legislation to reform Pennsylvania’s child sex crime laws.
Joe Capozzi, writer and producer of “Confession,” last week sent all the members of the state Senate a link to his 15-minute film, which depicts the story of his own abuse at the hands of a priest.
“It’s a tough film to watch but there’s a purpose for it,” said Capozzi, who worked on the film with wife Angelique Letizia. “Obviously it’s not about entertainment. We wanted to give the perspective from a survivor and what goes on in their head…especially for people who don’t understand. If someone can watch this film and still wonder whether statutues of limitations on child sex abuse should be reformed…if they still can say that, I would question their state of humanity.”
The state House in April approved and sent to the Senate House Bill 1947, which would amend the child sex crime laws by giving victims of abuse a longer time window during which they could bring charges on their predators.
Capozzi said he had not heard back from a single senator, including Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Stewart Greenleaf and other leadership.
Capozzi said he was sensitive to the fact that lawmakers were busy and received a lot of correspondence. He said that while “Spotlight,” the Academy Award-winning movie detailing the clergy sex abuse case out of the Boston Archdiocese, was difficult to sit through, his film is a mere quarter of an hour.
“Our feeling is that for 15 minutes, if you can challenge yourself, if you are voting on this issue and discussing it, this is one perspective you need to see.”
“It’s a tough film to watch but there’s a purpose for it.” – Joe Capozzi
In particular, the film depicts why it takes victims so long to go public with their abuse.
In 2006, Capozzi agreed to a $50,000 settlement with the Archdiocese of Newark in connection to his abuse. Capozzi had told the archdiocese that Monsignor Peter Cheplic had molested him for two decades starting in the mid-1980s, when Capozzi was a teenager and Cheplic worked at St. Joseph of the Palisades in West New York.
Capozzi last week did hear back from Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks), an outspoken advocate who has pushed for reform and helped steer HB1947 through the House.
“I hope ‘Confessions,’ which provokingly portrays the ‘grooming’ process and how children unwittingly succumb to predators, will elicit understanding of how victims are affected for life and how predators continue don’t stop abusing,” Rozzi said. “We must pass HB 1947 to end this madness.”
Rozzi, a survivor of clergy sex abuse, two years ago, distributed to all the members of the General Assembly copies of his 40-minute documentary “You Have the Power – To Make This Right”. Few members attended the screening.
“That effort did not change minds,” Rozzi said.
Like Pennsylvania, the New Jersey and New York Legislatures have proposed reform legislation pending.
This put on mindset that of someone that gone through struggles and why take so long for someone to come out …it’s such a complicated issue.
“The timing of everything just seems right,” Capozzi said. “I feel hopeful that we are at a point where everyone will wake up and get the sense that we are protecting the wrong people.”