Schenectady Gazette Editorial re Child Victim’s Act 6-18-17

Editorial: If lawmakers do anything, pass the Child Victims Act

Give child sex abuse victims an opportunity to get justice

Mark Mahoney, | June 17, 2017

New York state lawmakers have left a lot of important matters until the last minute before they end this year’s legislative session later this week.

If they do anything, they need to pass the Child Victims Act and give victims of child sex crimes more time to get the justice they deserve.

The Assembly earlier this month passed a bill (A5885/S6722,S6575) that would do just that.

Child sex abusers have long been protected in New York by a relentlessly early statute of limitations that often does not give a traumatized victim enough time as an adult to remember and report the abuse.

Under current law, there is a five-year statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges in certain sex-related felony crimes involving minors.

Right now, the clock on that five years starts when the victim turns 18. The new law would keep the same five-year statute of limitations, but would start the clock when the victim turns 23 years old. That means victims could be 28 years old and still have charges brought. The clock on the 2-year statute of limitations on certain misdemeanor sex crimes would also start at age 23, giving victims another five years —until they reach age 25 — to bring charges.

Also under the new legislation, victims would have until age 50 to commence civil action against their attackers.

And the bill contains a provision for a one-year window that will allow older victims to come forward within that time frame.

All of our local members of the Assembly (Santabarbara, Woerner, Walsh and Steck) voted in favor of the bill, which passed 139-7 on June 7.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week put his considerable political weight behind a version of the bill that essentially mirrors the terms of the Assembly version.

The holdup is in the state Senate, where Republican lawmakers are being pressured by opposition groups, including the Catholic Conference. Apparently, opponents really don’t like the provision that establishes a one-year window for old cases. They feel that some people could be falsely accused, with no evidence or witnesses available after so much time to refute the alleged victims’ claims.

That’s certainly a legitimate concern. The longer a case goes, the more difficult it is to prove, one way or the other.

In an attempt to alleviate concerns about someone being railroaded, one state senator has proposed that a commission be set up to review the validity of those older claims before allowing charges to be brought.

While it might sway some Republican senators to support the legislation, it seems like an unnecessary and cumbersome step designed to shield the criminals.

Regardless of whether there’s a commission or not, each of these cases is going to be brought forward by a prosecutors, who will have to be confident they have enough evidence to make the case. And each case will be heard by judges, who can decide for themselves whether a case has merit. Why create an extra layer?

Victims of child abuse need justice.

The Child Victims Act would help give them that justice.

It needs to be passed this week.

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Let’s rally for Women on Saturday. 10:00am at the Cathedral!

It seems like the Catholic Hierarchy can motor on indefinitely without any observable recognition of women in the Church. We might say the very same things about all baptized in this Church. In spite of Vatican II, in spite of everything learned from history, in spite of our understanding of human development the Church continues to cast a blind eye toward women as anything but silent partners in the governing of the Roman Catholic Church to say nothing of the overwhelming need for a pastoral presence for those in need.

Join us this Saturday am at the Cathedral for a Witness for Women as we stand for inclusion of all the baptized in the working and manifestation of the Roman Catholic Church.  We have done this before and we will persist in making a public statement in the only way open to us, by offering our witness to the fact that women should be ordained in our Church.

Join us on Saturday at 10:00am in front of the Cathedral.  Bring a sign able to be seen from a distance.  We will be present from 10:00 am till 11:00 when the Ordination will begin.  We have some signs for people.

Please let Bill and Ellen Halligan know if you can join us.  Call them at 518- 462-2299. Or send a quick message to them at

Support Amended Assembly Child Victims Act Bill

Catholic Justice Organizations Support Amended Assembly Child Victims Act Bill and Urge a Vote

Call To Action Upstate New York and Call To Action Metro New York, Catholic justice organizations, applaud New York’s Assembly leadership for the recent revisions to the Child Victims Act bill, A5885-a, that make it reflect more meaningful reform of the statutes of limitation for crimes of sexual abuse of minors.  We are encouraged by this important step.

We urge the Assembly to vote on this amended bill before the session ends.  The Senate then must make the next move.  They can continue to block the Child Victims Act, as they have in the past, or decide to move it forward so it can finally be voted on in the Senate. This issue and this bill deserve a vote.  New York’s children deserve a vote.  We hope that each legislator will weigh in their conscience the rights and protection of New York’s children, as well as justice for past victims, over the protection of predators.

As Catholics, we were encouraged to see the New York Archdiocese acknowledge the need for restitution for a past harm done to victims by opening the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program to settle cases that occurred in the diocese years ago.  However, this program is limited to victims who were abused by diocesan priests or deacons.  All victims of past abuse deserve that same opportunity, whether they were abused by a church-related person, a coach, or a trusted family member.  We therefore appeal to the New York State Catholic Conference, the official voice of the Catholic Church, to support the Child Victims Act, which would provide a window of time for victims whose cases were denied a court hearing in the past by New York’s outdated statutes of limitation to bring their cases forward.  The CVA would also help to identify perpetrators currently preying on or in contact with children.

Stephen Powers, a long-time leader of Call To Action Upstate NY, remarked, “For the bishops to lobby against a bill with a window – which they have done –  denies a path to justice for the many New York victims who were abused by individuals other than clergy members of the Archdiocese.  It ultimately sends a mixed message about their intentions.”

Let’s get this done so we can all move on with a clear conscience by increasing protection for our children in the future by extending the statutes of limitation and by providing a path for justice with a look-back window for those adults denied justice in the past by woefully outdated statutes of limitation.

We hope the legislature will take a bold step forward in making New York a leader on this issue. We are grateful to the Governor for his January, 2017, statement in support of the Child Victims Act and for his willingness to listen to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in order to better understand the need for this reform.  We look forward to his continued leadership on this bill.  It’s time – one could say long overdue – to get this bill passed as an important step towards stopping the scourge of sexual abuse of children.


 Call To Action Upstate New York, with members in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, and Call To Action Metro New York, with members in Downstate New York and Long Island, are chapters of the national organization Call To Action ( which seeks to educate, inspire and activate Catholics to promote the values of the Gospel and, in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, to act for justice and build inclusive worshiping communities.


Contact: CTA Upstate NY:    Website:

CTA Metro NY:;    Website: