A Catholic Conference Disgustingly Tried To Block Reforms To Protect Child Sexual Abuse Victims

As if it weren’t hard enough for victims of abuse to seek justice, let alone feel supported or even believed, the Catholic Conference has stooped to a new low amid years of reports of child sex abuse. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who leads New York’s Catholic Conference, hired major lobby firms to halt legislation geared toward helping child abuse victims seek justice, The New York Daily News reports. State records show that between 2007 and 2015, the conference doled out more than $2 million in an effort to stop New York’s Child Victims Act from becoming law.

The Child Victims Act would get rid of the statute of limitations for victims to bring civil cases against their abusers and open a one-year window for people who have passed the current limitation to do so. If the conference, which represents all of New York’s bishops in public policy, manages to block the reform, adult victims who were abused as children would not have their GOD-GIVEN right to file civil claims after their 23rd birthday. Time is ticking since the state legislature’s session ends June 16.

“They are willing to spend limitless money in order to basically keep bad guys from being accountable for their actions,” Melanie Blow, chief operations officer of the Stop Abuse Campaign, told Kenneth Lovett from The New York Daily News. “I think they’re doing it because they don’t want to have to pay out settlements.” Messed up on so many levels, if I may say so myself.

The Catholic Conference argued that opening a one-year window could bankrupt the Church if lots of old cases reemerge.

The news is not much different than New York’s already outdated system of “protecting” victims of child sexual abuse. You know how it can be so traumatic it often takes years or decades of therapy just to be able to articulate the incident out loud? Yeah, well as it stands, New York State requires you to come forward within five years after the age of 18 for any charges to hold weight. The state’s law ranks among Georgia’s, Mississippi’s, and Alabama’s in supporting assault victims, New York State assembly member Margaret Markey told The New York Daily News citing a survey by Professor Marci Hamilton of Cardozo Law School. I thought we were passed that victim-blaming shit where you have to report it right away or no one will believe you.

A 2010 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau report found that 9.2 percent of child victims of abuse have been sexually assaulted. This number could be far higher as it doesn’t factor in unreported cases. What’s worse (I mean they’re all equally bad, I just need a transitional phrase), is that a 2003 National Institute of Justice report found that 75 percent of teens who’ve been sexually assaulted were abused by someone they know well.

In our national effort to protect marginalized populations (or you know, ANYONE) from being stripped of their civil rights, it is crucial the CVA remains intact. Here’s why. When California enacted a similar law, the state uncovered 300 perpetrators. Delaware, a state comparably smaller, found 60. This is one step closer to protecting and securing justice for every victim.

Now, let’s give victims the luxury of, at the very least, a safe space that lets them heal in their own time, on their own terms. Or better yet: imprison first-time offenders instead of letting it happen.