Protect Children or their Predators?
Will New York’s State Senate put church or children first?
Assemblywoman Marge Markey is a long time supporter of victims of child abuse. A version of her Child Victims Act has passed the New York State Assembly four times but it has never received a vote in the State Senate. Why not? What’s standing in its way?
The most significant opposition to the Child Victims Act is from the Roman Catholic Church who are spending a fortune across the country on lobbyists and arm twisting. New York’s Senators are having to decide between protecting children from child sex abuse or protecting the assets of the churches who were responsible for shielding many of their abusers.
We believe their effort would be better spent cleaning up their own processes. Processes that have just been exposed in Newark, New Jersey where Newark Archbishop John J. Myers was caught deciding to allow priest and self confessed child molester, Rev Fugee, to breach an agreement and have unsupervised access to children – including taking their confession. Father Fugee has now been arrested again.
Recognizing our understanding that victims of child sex abuse can often take years to report their abuse Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is expected to sign the bill into law.
“People who have suffered trauma are not public property,” said Andrew Willis of the Stop Abuse Campaign. “They have the right to come to terms with their abuse in their own time and express it in their own way, when they are ready.”
Meanwhile back in New York Senator Klein is on record as supporting church over children.
We know that in states like California, Delaware, Hawaii, etc. where statutes of limitations have been removed victims have come forward and identified abusers, previously unidentified, who were often still abusing children. The cycle of violence gets broken, abuse stops before it happens, before another child becomes a statistic.
Opponents of the bill have included New York’s infamous Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez who now says he will quit the assembly on Monday and whose poster from last September adorns our office wall.
Soon to be former Assemblyman Lopez represents the interests of the Roman Catholic Church and ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups in defeating the bill. It seems Senator Klein does too.
But is Senator Klein correct? Does the Child Victims Act expose religious institutions to potentially devastating civil liability? Not according to advocates at SOL Reform led by constitutional law expert Marci Hamilton who show that opening the court to allow victims of child sex abuse to seek justice will not destroy the church.
With over 10,000 signatures on a very public petition and many of us making calls to Senator Klein and Senator Skelos’ office we hope they’ll schedule a vote and hurry the Child Victims Act to the Governor for signature.
“New York should put the safety of it’s children first.” Andrew Willis, Stop Abuse Campaign