Cuomo Pooh-poohs GOP Lawmaker's $300m Child Sex-abuse Restitution Fund
By Kenneth Lovett
New York Daily News
May 10, 2018
|Gov. Cuomo (r.) said the fund would limit payouts to adult victims of child sex assault, a cap he opposes. (Frank Franklin II/AP)|
Gov. Cuomo threw cold water on a Republican state senator's proposal to create a $300 million fund earmarked for child sex abuse survivors.
Cuomo raised several concerns, including whether the $300 million is enough.
"You would cap the recovery of people and I don't believe there should be a cap," he said. "I believe it should be whatever the damages are."
Cuomo said he supports a more expansive Child Victims Act bill that he and legislative Democrats have pushed for that targets the abusers themselves and their institutions.
The Daily News reported Thursday that the centerpiece of the legislation introduced by Sen. Catharine Young (R-Chautauqua County) is the creation of a $300 million Child Victim Reconciliation and Compensation Fund that would be run out of the state controller's office.
Rather than have individual abusers or institutions like the Church, yeshivas, schools, the Boy Scouts of America, and the insurance companies pay the settlements, victims who no longer can bring lawsuits under current law would be eligible to seek restitution from the fund, which would hire hearing officers and investigators to probe and rule on claims. Under the bill, the state would get the $300 million from the more than $700 million in asset forfeiture funds controlled by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.'s office.
Vance's office ripped the bill, which has 19 sponsors, including Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, who caucuses with the GOP.
Vance spokesman Danny Frost said if the senators are intent on using asset forfeiture money, they should dip into the $2 billion the DA's financial crime probes contributed to New York since 2010. "If these senators want to bail out child predators and their enablers, perhaps they could use some of that money instead," he said.
Sen. Brad Hoylman, the Manhattan Democratic sponsor of a more expansive version of the Child Victims Act that has passed the Assembly but been blocked by the Senate GOP, also blasted Young's bill.
|Sen. Catharine Young (R-Chautauqua County) backed the measure in the state legislature. (Mike Groll/AP)|
Hoylman questioned the legality of grabbing the funds from Vance's office. He also suggested even if it is legal, it would steal money from worthy criminal justice programs like the purchase of rape test kits and cameras for public housing at the expense of protecting "child sexual abusers and institutions who harbor them."
While many survivors oppose the bill, some support it, including Gary Greenberg, who was sexually abused as a child and who helped craft the legislation that would also do away with the statute of limitations on all child sex abuse crimes. "This is a sincere effort by Senator Young to help past and future victims," he said. "The bill is a work in progress and I urge all parties to work together to bring long-sought healing and justice to victims of child sexual abuse."
But many survivors and advocates say they are prepared to wait and see whether the Democrats can reclaim the Senate majority in the November elections and then pass the full Child Victims Act next year.