New York Daily News
June 18, 2016
The fight is not over, because this is a fight for morality over money, for justice in daylight over sins buried with the force of law.
New York’s Legislature closed the 2016 session without enacting a law that would empower childhood victims of sexual abuse to bring alleged predators into courts now closed to them.
Gov. Cuomo washed his hands of the bill. He will not be able to do so forever, because the hurt he accepts is too real, too severe.
Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan as much as told those of lost innocence and scarred lives to go to hell. The public will be reminded that Flanagan and his GOP forces stand with predators and their protectors.
Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie inched ever so close to letting the Assembly pass a reform bill — then lost his nerve on even okaying a vote that would have been but a symbolic statement. He and his members will be called to account for failing to do what they knew was right.
Cuomo, Flanagan and Heastie bowed before the power of the institution of the Catholic Church — and here an important distinction must be understood.
There’s “the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church,” the spiritual organism that loathes any degradation of human dignity and that tends to the victimized with pure love. Then there’s the institution of human beings, touched with human flaws and concerns, including financial affairs and the preservation of self-image.
The latter is the church whose political might overpowered Cuomo, Flanagan and Heastie — in the process again cementing the false impression that the priesthood is dominated by pedophiles.
While the church’s past history of protecting abusers in the clergy is well known, the scourge of sexual victimization extends far beyond the cloth to every walk of life — to teachers, coaches, neighbors and, at a degree that’s little understood, family.
The Daily News began pressing the Legislature to extend and eliminate New York’s excessively tight statutes of limitations on sex abuse court actions in March after police arrested an alleged serial abuser on Long Island, only to discover that the statutes barred prosecutions for many of the reported offenses.
The law gives childhood victims five years after they turn 18 — or the age of 23 — to sue abusers, and victims have just three years after they turn 18 to sue an institution that failed to protect them. Many of those who suffered assaults as children spend years coming to terms with their victimizations so that the statute of limitation has long since lapsed when many feel capable of suing.
Hoping to keep the courthouse doors open without allowing so much time to pass that proceedings become unreliable, the News called for extending the statute to at least the age of 28, if not 35. The News also urged repealing a requirement that victims must notify public institutions of an intent to sue within 90 days of being abused, and for eliminating the statute of limitations for prosecuting all sex crimes.
Finally, the most contentious issue, the one most opposed by the Catholic Church, involves giving past abuse victims who have been shut out of the courts one year to file claims. Trusting that dedicated courts could fairly adjudicate this special class of cases, the News backed the so-called one-year look-back.
In the workings of government, there could hardly be an issue more fundamental then providing a chance at justice to people who were criminally assault by an adult they trusted during their most vulnerable years.
Regardless, the Legislature gaveled out without action amid a flurry of frivolous legislation.
New Yorkers who enjoy Sunday brunch at restaurants will be able to order alcoholic beverages at 10 a.m. rather than have to wait until noon. But New Yorkers seared by childhood violation will have to wait until never for justice, thanks to Cuomo, Flanagan and Heastie.
The battle has just begun, gentlemen, along with prayers that, upon reflection, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, of the Archdiocese of New York, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, of the Diocese of Brooklyn, will open their hearts.