Senator Flanagan, by now you must realize that New Yorkers have identified you as the one who has been scuttling the Child Victims Act (“CVA”) for all these years. We can see how, in your role as Senate Majority Leader, you’ve kept the CVA buried and out of public sight, even breaking your own Senate rules to prevent it getting a vote.
Fortunately, you’ve been doing this for so long that the talking points you use (lobbyist provided?) have expired. They are all debunked and dis-proven by empirical data collected from states that have passed reform bills with a look-back window like the one in the CVA. You don’t live in a bubble so you must know these things are true. You refuse to meet with survivors and advocates nor do you let the bill come to the floor of the Senate, because then you could no longer justify your obstruction. Your fellow Senators would then get an opportunity to argue for or against it on its merits, question subject matter experts, and hear public opinion.
Why on earth would you want to hide a reform bill, supported by over 90% of New Yorkers, including majorities of Catholics and Republicans, and go to such extreme and unorthodox lengths to keep it hidden?
Could that surprise meeting with the Archbishop of New York, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, give us any clue? You were so excited that you posted about what a pleasure his visit was on social media! I don’t know if you regret that but I bet the Cardinal wishes he had done it differently. He really stepped in it with his comments to the press.
“The look-back we find to be very strangling,” said Dolan. . . . Cardinal Dolan says he told the Democratic governor that the Catholic Church does not agree with that provision, saying the “look-back would be toxic” for the church.
Imagine how those words sound, not only to survivors of child sex abuse by the Catholic clergy (approximately 3% of total), but the rest (97%) of sexual abuse survivors who are also being blocked from justice by your doing the Cardinals bidding. Now add to them that majority of New Yorkers who agree with survivors and advocates, that children who were sexually abused should still have access to our judicial system when they have had the time to deal with their trauma and find the courage to face their abusers, and you see where I’m headed with this.
If Cardinal Dolan chooses to respond to this outrage he’ll simply say it was unfortunate that he chose those words. But in reality it was a big unforced error on his part. He let the cat out of the bag for everyone who did not already know, exposing the reality of this David vs. Goliath battle. To the Catholic Church, the single wealthiest and most influential organization in history, this is about preventing the disclosure of complicity and cover-ups that would be revealed should these older cases make it into the court system.
Protecting their reputation is a higher priority than protecting our children. That is what you accomplish by smothering the Child Victims Act. In contrast, the CVA will accomplish two primary things when it is inevitably passed into law.
First, it would keep predators from being able to run out the archaic statute of limitations clock while discouraging employers from aiding and abetting them by providing consequences for making that wrong minded choice.
The second crucial piece of the CVA is the look-back window which would help identify child molesters who are still targeting our kids (they never stop on their own) forcing institutions to deal appropriately with them and alerting parents to their presence in the community.
Senator Flanagan, you must see that both of these aspects of the CVA are about protecting the kids who are growing up today, not about getting revenge on the Church or the Boy Scouts by bankrupting them. It is about the more than 40,000 New York children (1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys), who it has been estimated would otherwise be sexually abused each year. It is why advocates for the CVA shout out from the roof tops that when you kill the CVA you are siding with the abusers over the abused, and protecting the predators rather than the victims.
I know you say that’s not what you and your Republican colleagues are doing. But clearly, it is. And after Cardinal Dolan’s faux pas this week you’ve lost that argument. If it’s within your power to block justice for survivors and threaten the safety of children, it must also be that you can choose to let go of this Crusade to protect the Church and let the Child Victims Act stand or fall on its own merits in the fresh air and daylight it deserves. Join with Governor Cuomo and your colleagues in the Assembly and do the right thing.