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.