Child Victims Act 2014

Upstate NY Call To Action has joined the effort to protect our children by supporting the NY Child Victims Act.  The organizations which have joined the Catholic Coalition thus far are CTA Metro-NY, CTA Upstate NY, VOTF New York City, Dignity/NY, and Road to Recovery.  Information on how members can participate through visits with legislators, phone calls and letters will be received shortly.   

 

Support the NY Catholic Conscience Campaign

 

Protect our children from abuse and support past victims

by reforming the NY statute of limitations for sex offenses against children.

We the undersigned call on all Catholics in good conscience to advocate for reform of the statute of limitations on sexual abuse of minors in the State of New York, as proposed in the NY Child Victims Act (A1771/S6367). In the State of New York today, child victims of sexual abuse only have a limited period of time[1] during which they can make a criminal complaint or bring civil action against their attackers. We have learned from the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, as well as from cases in other institutions and in society at large, that victims often need many years to understand what happened to them and to find the courage to pursue justice.

We believe that children have the absolute right to live free from the threat of sexual abuse, and, if attacked, to pursue justice against their abusers without regard to the time that has elapsed since their abuse. We believe the State of New York has an obligation to reform its laws on the statute of limitations to give all victims of child sexual abuse – past, as well as present and future — access to justice by allowing them to bring legal actions against their individual abusers and against the institutions that facilitated or failed to report that abuse[2]. Furthermore, we believe the State of New York must apply these reformed laws to all institutions within its jurisdiction, public as well as private. The NY Child Victims Act does not cover public institutions, but represents a crucial first step toward full reform and should be supported

We call on Catholic leaders to cease their efforts to block these reforms, to stop spending our donated dollars to hire lobbyists to deny justice to victims, and as a first step, to support the NY Child Victims Act, which eliminates the statute of limitations in criminal and civil actions for certain sex offenses against children under 18 years of age. The NY Child Victims Act also gives past victims who were denied access to the court system one year in which to bring actions.

As Catholics, we cannot in good conscience ignore the special moral obligation and collective responsibility we have to make amends for the sins committed by those priests, religious and employees who while in positions of trust abused their authority over our children. According to a recent poll, 70 percent of American Catholics believe that addressing the sex abuse crisis should be a top priority of His Holiness Pope Francis,[3] who has said that the Catholic Church should “act decisively as far as cases of sexual abuse are concerned, promoting, above all, measures to protect minors, help for those who have suffered such violence in the past (and) the necessary procedures against those who are guilty.”[4]We believe statute of limitations reform must also be a top priority for the leaders of our church in New York and across the U.S. who, until now, have been among its most vociferous opponents in state after state. We call upon the Catholic hierarchy to examine their consciences, change their hearts, and do the right thing. We also call on all clergy and religious to support this reform.

We urge our fellow Catholics to join with people of good will everywhere to build a society that respects the right of children and their parents to live free from fear. A vital first step toward this goal is the elimination of the statute of limitations for sex abuse of children in the State of New York through the passage of the NY Child Victims Act (Assembly Bill A1771/Senate Bill S6367).

(signed)

Organizations


[1] Five years from the event, or age 23, whichever comes first.

[2] Opening a “window” allows victims of past abuse that were shut out by the short statute of limitations to finally gain access to our courts.

[4]Reuters, April 8, 2013.