Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Time running out for New York to pass the #ChildVictimsAct

New York state law prohibits victims of child sexual abuse from bringing criminal charges or civil claims against abusers after the victim’s 23rd birthday. Abusers are many: teachers, coaches, family, religious clergy of all denominations.  One of the worst – the Catholic Church, is hiding behind enabler/abuser bishops and Pope Francis. What do Catholics think?

Many Catholic parishioners favor changing this unjust law and want the church to support New York legislation that allows child abuse victims to seek justice as adults.  From Catholics who attend Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

 “It should definitely be extended. It’s a terrible thing, and I know people who have had encounters and I feel very sorry for them. I don’t think that’s what our religion should be,” said Annette Gould.

Araceli Colato agreed, saying it's not fair that the law prohibits people from seeking justice as adults.

“This really is an issue of justice. They should do something for the victims, and there is a lack of transparency in how the church is handling this,” said John Murphy, who attends lunchtime Mass daily at St. Patrick’s.
“I don’t think there should be a statute of limitations. It doesn’t make sense to me. Why after a certain amount of time it’s as if the incident never happened?” asked Andrei Alcruz.

And in Brooklyn:

“The almighty dollar shouldn’t prevent the church from doing what’s right”, said Robyn Ventura, who attends the Church of St. Saviour in Park Slope, Brooklyn. 

Victims need a “window”  -- a time period where they could bring a lawsuit for abuse that happened when they were children.  This would be an expensive window for the Catholic Church, which has already paid out more than $2 billion in the U.S. – with most of the money not going to abuse survivors and their families – but for costs related to abuse allegations, which includes settlements, support for offenders, attorneys’ fees, and other costs.  The catholic church, caring only about their bottom line fights the laws that would help the abused.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan - This is not funny

Heading up the abuse of already abused victims is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. He runs the New York Catholic Conference, which has spent big money to lobby against changing the state's child abuse laws.  Remember, he is not just hurting abused Catholics, he is stopping reform that would help ALL victims of child abuse in New York.  He is helped by New York politicians who are either in the pocket of the church or are enablers/abusers themselves:  Governor Andrew Cuomo,  Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Flanagan, Cuomo, Heastie - Three of a kind
Bills to open a window and do away with the statute of limitations are sponsored by Senate Democratic Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Senator Brad Hoylman (D).  Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) who has been fighting for this bill for 10 years is hopeful a bill will get passed. Her aides expect to meet with people from Gov. Cuomo’s office and the state Senate this week.  “I really think we have a chance of getting this bill passed. At the end of the session a lot of things can happen, a lot of negotiations can go on,” she said.

Assemblywoman Markey, chief sponsor in the Assembly of the Child Victims Act, told advocates she decided to fight for reform because of a family member who was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. How many of you were or know someone who was a victim? 
Assembylwoman Markey
Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins 
Senator Brad Hoylman
Linda Fairstein
Another advocate, Linda Fairstein, former head of the sex crimes unit at the Manhattan District Attorney's office, slammed the Child Victims Act foes Cardinal Dolan and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan for obstructing the path to reform. “There is no reasonable opposition to this argument”, said Fairstein.

Walking to Win

On Sunday, more than 200 advocates for reform of the state’s statute of limitations for child abuse marched across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Marchers included Matt Sandusky, stepson of notorious Penn State pervert Jerry Sandusky, and Phil Saviano, who was portrayed in the movie “Spotlight.”

Marchers came from as far away as Ohio and Florida. Others came from Pennsylvania and New Jersey — where advocates are also fighting to reform those states’ statutes of limitations on child sex abuse.

Marching over the Brooklyn Bridge
“We need to send a message. We need statute of limitations reform round the country. It is so important for people to understand who the law is protecting — the lobbyists and the church and not the children,” said Annette Nestler of Cape May County, N.J., who wore a broken screen window around her neck — a symbol of opening the window of opportunity for justice.

How long do those of us abused in New York State have to wait for justice? Vote these cold hearted politicians out of office.  Don’t give your money to abusers so they can use it for high paid lawyers and lobbyists who will see to it that children never have rights in New York.  We have the power to stop the double abuse – first by the predator and second by the institution protecting the predator. Let’s do it.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

#PopeFrancis calls #CatholicChurch “loving mother” – what kind of mother promotes #childsexualabuse?

Bishops not showing their faces - guilty?
So Francis says that Catholic bishops guilty of negligence in child abuse cases can now be dismissed from office.  Is it a coincidence that Frances made this announcement just two weeks after he came under fire for meeting French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, accused of covering up for a pedophile priest in a scandal that has shaken France’s Catholic Church? Francis said then it would be “nonsensical and imprudent” to seek Barbarin’s resignation. 

French law officials are deciding whether to pursue charges against Barbarin for his handling of the allegations against Bernard Preynat, a priest in his diocese who has been charged with sex abuse. Police raided the offices of a clerical judicial adviser to the Lyon diocese and Barbarin will be questioned by police shortly, according to the French press. Good for the French police – let’s hope other countries follow their lead.

David Clohessy, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is, with good cause, very skeptical about this “new” plan working. In the case of the abuse of minors, “Popes and bishops have long had the power, but not the will, to oust those who protect predators and endanger kids. They refuse to do this, and the consequences are devastating,” Clohessy said. “When it’s advantageous to move quickly, Catholic officials move quickly. When they want to move slowly, or not at all, they set up commissions and ‘processes’ and the like.”

The bishops, according to Francis, can be sacked for “serious reasons.”  But who is deciding what is serious? We’ve seen for 2000 years that self-policing by the church hierarchy changes nothing when it comes to justice for child sex abuse victims.

How can Francis say, in the face of worldwide child sexual abuse by his church which has mostly gone unpunished that:

“The Church, like a loving mother, loves all her children, but treats and protects with special affection the smallest and most helpless.”   My brother and I were not protected from the priest who raped us and the nuns who beat us – so what is he talking about? Maybe he believes his own lies.

The Pope’s tribunal set up to discipline bishops did nothing for a year.  Now Francis has a “college of legal experts” — cardinals and bishops —to assist him in reaching a decision in a particular case. Sounds like more stone-walling to me: Roman Catholic bishops who have failed to properly handle sex abuse cases will be investigated by four Vatican offices -  of course decisions will have to wait until all four offices are done.

Canon (church) law already provides for the removal of bishops “for serious causes,” which the pope has acknowledged.  So how come no bishops were removed?  We are back to the “serious” acts that Francis and his minions will define. So far covering up child rape has not been serious enough to result in bishop dismissal.

Let’s see how soon Pope Francis’ “new” plan will produce action that will make a difference in the lives of those of us abused by the catholic church.  Let’s check back a year from now and see if this new committee did anything besides protect the reputation of the church and use parishioners’ money to defend criminal bishops and priests.