Advocates confused and angry over handling of the Child Victims Act

Gazette photo by Thomas Giery Pudney
Advocates protest in the state Capitol for a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for legal action when a child is sexually abused.

Activists pushing for the long-contested Child Victims Act were left wondering the motives of lawmakers after a week in which Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced and then questioned the chances, of his own program bill.

“The advocates feel his office hoodwinked us by appeasing victims with his program bill and than appeasing Cardinal Dolan and the church by killing his own bill,” said Gary Greenberg, founder of Fighting for Children Public Action Committee. “I say to this Governor Cuomo: shame on you!”

Greenberg is referring to comments made by Cuomo on a conference call with the press on Friday, two days after introducing his own program bill, that he “was not optimistic,” about its passage in the Senate.

“Cuomo needs to get back to Albany and pass a Child Victims Act,” added Greenberg. “He has disappeared from Albany the last few weeks, the governor has the power to stop 150 kids a day from being sexually abused in New York.”

Greenberg and others are also calling on the governor to apply pressure to individual legislators, citing the work he did personally to get Marriage Equality on the books in 2011.

“The governor should push the bill like he pushed gay rights,” said Nikki DuBose, an abuse survivor and activist. “Get on the phone and back to Albany and push the Senate to pass the bill.

“There is no greater cause than protecting children.”

If the Senate takes no action this session, Greenberg and DuBose have both promised consequences for lawmakers who are dragging their feet on the CVA, suggesting they will try to make it an election issue in 2018.

“Senator Flanagan will not be re-elected if he doesn’t pass this bill,” said DuBose on Monday morning. “and the governor will not be a fit president if he can’t even protect the kids of New York.”

Electoral action was also on Greenberg’s agenda should the Senate fail to act.

“The Republican majority, helped by a Democrat, is hanging on by a thread,” Greenberg said in an email over the weekend. ”We are not going anywhere and proved that by helping two candidates win this past May in special elections for an Assembly and Senate seat.”

Advocates are quick to point out the ever-mounting human costs of not passing some sort of protections for victims.

“If nothing is done then we have yet another dead bill for another year and that’s another 43,000 kids who are sexually abused,” DuBose said.

The legislative session ends Wednesday.