Commenting on the rights of defendants in abuse cases
, the bill's sponsor, state Senator Steven A. Tolman, a Brighton Democrat, said, ''Child predators should not have rights."
Other than the occasional skeptical question from Judiciary Committee members, yesterday's hearing was entirely dominated by those supporting the bill, including several psychologists and therapists who repeatedly said that child sexual abuse is unlike any other crime.
''Shame keeps children from telling anyone when it first happens and can keep them silent for many, many years," said Ann Hagan Webb, a psychologist and New England coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an advocacy group. ''It often takes decades to get past that."
The advocates presented lawmakers with a small-scale survey by Boston lawyer Carmen Durso, who represents many alleged abuse victims. He found that it took an average of 32.3 years before child sexual abuse victims revealed the episode.
Lawmakers also heard testimony from Roy Simmons, a former player with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, who recently revealed in a published memoir that he had been raped by a family acquaintance at age 11 and suffered mental anguish that led to drug problems and depression.
''I felt that it was my fault," said Simmons, a Martha's Vineyard resident. ''I'm still in therapy."