This was the year the bill would pass, thought advocates of the Child Victims Act. Instead, supporters of the bill — as well as the child sex abuse survivors who traveled to Albany to share their stories — were met with devastating news on Tuesday morning.
The New York State Senate declined to vote on the bill.
Despite the growing support of survivors, lawmakers, and even Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Child Victims Act was killed yet again, reports NY Daily News. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan confirmed that the Child Victims Act was done for this year’s legislative session.
“It’s under discussion, but the Senate is not going to be taking that bill up,” Flanagan told reporters.
The move was met by anger and criticism from survivors and politicians alike.
“Once again justice has been denied to so many victims of such heinous crimes,” said Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to NDN. “The failure to act on the Child Victims Act for the 11th straight year is a failure that stains the entire legislative session.”
The bill’s primary sponsor, State Senator Brad Hoylman, called the announcement a “crushing disappointment.”
“It’s mostly sad that it sends a message to New Yorkers that the government is not working for them,” Hoylman explained to The Village Voice. “Big money has trumped victims’ rights.”
Clearly, the decision ifn Albany has let down New Yorkers statewide. But why is the passing of the NY Child Victims Act so important for victims of abuse? And what avenues of justice are still available to these survivors?
What is the NY Child Victims Act?
Legislative Bill A.1771/S.6367, known as the NY Child Victims Act, wants to eliminate the current time limit on sex abuse cases in New York, the state with some of the most restrictive statute of limitation (SOL) laws surrounding child sex abuse cases in the country.
Presently, victims are required to come forward with claims of abuse by their 23rd birthday. This is a stipulation that fails to recognize that most victims of abuse are unable to disclose their abuse until adulthood due to emotional and financial factors, according to non-profit organization Prevent Child Abuse New York.
Eliminating these restrictive SOL laws entirely would allow victims to come forward when they are ready, without fear of being “too late” to file a suit. Additionally, these laws not only deny victims their day in court, but potentially place other children at risk of being abused by unknown and unidentified offenders.
This bill would also provide a one-time, one-year window of opportunity for survivors of child sexual abuse to file a claim, allowing victims of decades-old abuse to finally get justice and potentially identify rampant abusers who have previously evaded legal consequences.
Some believe it was opposition to this proposed window that resulted in the bill being killed yet again this year, raising questions about who exactly the Senate is aiming to protect.
“The Senate is taking a position that they would rather protect predators,” Assembly bill sponsor Linda Rosenthal said to NDN.
There’s Still Hope for NY Clergy Abuse Victims
The news about the Child Victims Act is a major blow to proponents of the bill, but there is still hope for clergy sex abuse victims in New York seeking justice for decades-old cases of abuse.
Last year, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and the NY Archdiocese established a program, the Archdiocese of New York Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (“IRCP”), to help victims of sexual abuse over the past few decades recover compensation for their suffering — essentially allowing these victims to circumvent New York’s strict SOL laws.
Victims of clergy sex abuse in Brooklyn and Queens now have an avenue for justice as well. This week, Bishop Nicolas DiMarzio announced the Brooklyn Diocese’s own Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program for those victims harmed by clergy from the diocese’s 186 parishes and 211 churches in Brooklyn and Queens. Click here for details and deadlines for this program.
The NY Archdiocese’s program has two phases: Phase I specifically addresses the approximately 170 known victims to the church who have not received compensation for their suffering.
Phase II allows previously unknown victims of clergy abuse who’ve never made a complaint against the Catholic Church to come forward, even if the alleged abuse took place decades ago. The deadline for this phase of the program has been extended until Nov. 1, so there is still time to submit a claim.
Helping Victims to Heal
This program may be the last chance these victims have to make their voices heard after decades of being silenced by New York’s strict laws. Our attorneys want to help these brave survivors on their path to justice and healing.
If you were sexually abused by members of the clergy in New York, you may be entitled to compensation. Additionally, by coming forward, you and other victims will be able to hold the Archdiocese responsible for its history of rampant abuse.
There is a limited time to submit your claim, so don’t hesitate to contact us today at 877-785-3815.