EDITORIAL: State Senate needs to pass Child Victims Act
May 6, 2018
|Members of the New York State Senate work on passing budget bills in the Senate Chamber at the state Capitol in March. The state Senate is standing in the way of the Child Victims Act finally becoming law. The New York State Assembly voted 124-9 this week to pass the statute, which gives victims of child molestation a longer window to seek justice, but Majority Leader John Flanagan has refused to let the measure come to the Senate floor for a vote.|
Sometimes it takes a painfully long time to do the right thing.
That gives us hope that the time has come to pass the Child Victims Act.
The New York State Assembly voted 124-9 this week to pass a statute that gives victims of child molestation a longer window to seek justice. The proposal was first considered 10 years ago in New York.
Both local Assembly members — Dan Stec and Carrie Woerner — voted in favor of the measure.
A Siena College poll earlier this year found 79 percent of those polled support the measure.
What stands in the way of the Child Victims Act becoming law is the state Senate, where Republicans hold a razor-thin majority and Majority Leader John Flanagan has refused to let the measure come to the floor for a vote.
He needs to do the right thing.
The current law allows sex-abuse victims to file civil cases or seek criminal charges by the age of 23. Unfortunately, the average age when victims report abuse is 42. Under the Child Victims Act, victims could file suit until age 50 and seek criminal charges until age 28. Most in the state Senate are on board with that.
What has stopped the bill from becoming law is a one-year window allowing victims to file civil lawsuits for past abuse.
To seek justice for past misdeeds.
State Sen. Betty Little has said in the past that she is against the measure for that reason.
This should be an important issue for this community. Several local churches employed priests who molested children.
In the vestibule of St. Mary’s Church in Glens Falls is a plaque honoring the service of past priests, including one accused of sexual abuse. Despite complaints from victims, it wasn’t until this past year that the priest’s name was finally removed from the plaque.
Sometimes it just takes time to do the right thing.
We are reminded of the same-sex marriage debate seven years ago.
We are reminded how state Sen. Roy McDonald was one of four Republican senators to cross party lines to make it a law because he thought it was the right thing to do.
We hope Sen. Little considers her own legacy when this law finally comes to a vote. It may not be this year, but it will happen. She should support it.
We hope she considers how important it is to be on the right side of history.
Eight other states passed similar laws just last year. That encouraged more victims to come forward to seek justice.
Since last year, the #MeToo movement exposed a pervasive culture of sexual harassment in many industries, and USA Gymnastics was found culpable for the sexual abuse of dozens of Olympians in their care.
It’s time for the state Senate to stand up for the victims.
Those opposed to the Child Victims Act include the Catholic Church, Orthodox Jewish groups and the Boy Scouts of America. They claim the one-year look-back period could lead to a wave of lawsuits that could leave them bankrupt.
We wonder if that should even be our concern.
If those organizations are culpable, they need to pay a price no matter what other good work they do.
It’s time for the state Senate to do the right thing.