New York’s state legislatures ended their 2016 session at the weekend without acting on new legislation to help survivors of child sex abuse.
Responding to the news, Catholic League spokesperson Bill Donohue was jubilant, writing on his website: “The bill was sold as justice for the victims of sexual abuse, when, in fact, it was a sham: the proposed legislation that failed to make it to the floor of the New York State legislature in the wee hours of Saturday… was a vindictive bill pushed by lawyers and activists out to rape the Catholic Church.”
Critics have called Donohue’s language appallingly insensitive, given the international scope of the child sex abuse crisis in the church, but the outspoken lobbyist was taking no prisoners.
“If the statute of limitations were lifted on offenses involving the sexual abuse of minors, the only winners would be greedy and bigoted lawyers out to line their pockets in a rash of settlements,” Donohue continued.
“The big losers would be the poor, about whom the attorneys and activists care little: When money is funneled from parishioners to lawyers, services to the needy suffer. The Catholic League is proud of its role in this victory.”
Victims and advocates had hoped for a last minute miracle from legislators but it was not to be. The bill moved through committee but never emerged from it.
Responding to the failure to take action Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor who was sexually abused as a child, told the Daily News that survivors won't forget who let the bill die when every seat in the Legislature is up for election in November.
"Our elected officials chose predators over victims,” he told the press.
Sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey the proposed bill would have increased the time a sexual abuse claim can be brought by five years, as well as opening a six-month window to revive old cases, treating public and private entities in the same way when it comes to sex abuse cases.
Under current law a victim of child sex abuse has to file a lawsuit or seek a criminal case before they reach their 23rd birthday. Critics argue that it can take much longer to contend with the damage and decide to pursue justice, however.