Into the liars’ den: Albany leaders must hear and heed sex-abuse victims' demands for justice

By New York Daily News Editors
May 3, 2016

New Yorkers are soon to discover whether the scarring of child sex abuse counts for a damn in a state capital dominated by money.

Men and women who were prey to adults will walk the Legislature on Tuesday and Wednesday to lobby for relaxation of statutes of limitation that all but rule out prosecutions and civil suits against pedophiles.

They will press their cases alongside pleaders for other legislation — many of whom are accompanied by highly paid, door openers. For starters, they must trust no one. Even lawmakers who claim to be on their side.

Because individual legislators are puppets of the bosses. Commiseration and handshakes are meaningless without the backing for Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, GOP Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Gov. Cuomo.

Democrats will say they support extending or eliminating the statute of limitations only if . . .

Republicans will say they support extending or eliminating the statute of limitations only if . . .

And never will the ifs match.

Assaulted at school, church, home, locker rooms and elsewhere, victims of child sexual abuse have until age 23 to bring legal proceedings.

The theory behind a statute of limitations is that legal cases become untrustworthy with time. Yet New York has eliminated all time bars for some of the most heinous sexual felonies.

By treating molestation more stringently, the Legislature places an unconscionable burden on traumatized and inexperienced young adults to mobilize the civil and criminal justice system within five years of their 18th birthday. The result: most offenders get a free pass for serial violations.

The survivors’ delegation will share agonizing stories so that others might not suffer as they did.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey of Queens, sponsor of the Child Victims Act to lift the criminal and civil statutes of limitations on sex crimes against youth, will welcome them.

She has introduced the measure since 2005 and seen it stall due to opposition by the Catholic Church and ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders.

If they were to face legal jeopardy, they have argued, so should public schools and other government programs — which are protected by a requirement to file a claim within 90 days.

Manhattan Sen. Brad Hoylman introduced a bill that would exempt public-sector child-sex-abuse victims from the 90-day clock, but Markey has brushed it aside.

Victims must press lawmakers for full commitments — especially Heastie and Flanagan .

Mark Taylor and John Gerrard will speak of suffering under the power of their high school principals — Taylor in a New York City public school, Gerrard in a Queens Catholic school, neither any less a victim than the other for the choice of where their parents sent them to school.

They must ask: Will Heastie and Flanagan get behind Markey and Hoylman for a unified, comprehensive bill?

Michael DeSantis will recount abuse perpetrated by his parish priests. He must ask: Will Heastie and Flanagan vastly extend, if not eliminate, the statute of limitations and dump the 90 day rule?

All must focus on Heastie and Flanagan, demanding detailed commitments and still trusting no one.