The bill Senator Young is proposing and that the Senate might actually get to vote on this session is an insult to survivors of childhood sexual abuse and to the intelligence of all New Yorkers. It is a Trojan Horse, poison pill and red herring all rolled into one. Its purpose is not to give survivors the extended denied access to justice they seek but to shift the conversation away from the Republican-controlled Senate’s stonewalling any legitimate Child Victims Act for a dozen years.
For starters, Senator Young’s bill treats survivors differently from all other crime victims by inserting an additional, extra-judicial hurdle for the victims of child sexual abuse. New York State’s court system is good enough for every other crime, why do survivors of this one need a different process, one operating outside the regular judicial system?
The Young bill could have come right out of Cardinal Dolan’s playbook. Like the Church’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, rather than attempting to bring sexual predators to justice, it focuses instead on establishing a fund, and one with a cap, to pay claims for victims of abuse. Such a fund could be helpful as an add-on provision if there were no other source of compensation for a survivor, i.e., a negligent institution with liability insurance.
But this approach does nothing to get or keep sexual predators away from children. Nor does it incentivize institutions to protect children instead of putting them in harm’s way by reassigning known abusers to new unsuspecting populations. Institutions that failed to keep children safe from sexual predators should be responsible for the costs of restitution and compensation. They have been paying insurance premiums for decades to protect themselves against possible negligence claims.
Does Senator Young think that these institutions, along with their insurance companies, should be given a free pass at the expense of survivors, when they have been spending millions of dollars lobbying Albany senators against any legitimate CVA bill for many years? Her bill does not provide for claims against the institutions that put children in harms way by dealing with cases they were well aware of by keeping the information secret and moving predators around thereby giving them fresh hunting grounds.
To top it off, the funds that Senator Young wants to use for that compensation are already being used to help crime victims, which means she will have to steal from one subset of victims to help another subgroup. These are not the ones who should be paying the price for these crimes. They’ve already paid too high a price.
Along with everything above, Senator Young’s bill does nothing to expand the civil statute of limitations going forward, which should be central to any SOL reform the Senate considers.
Just more smoke and mirrors!