Keeping with a decade-long tradition, the New York State senate has once again refused to take up a widely-supported bill extending the amount of time that child sexual abuse victims can seek justice as adults. On Wednesday, the senate ended its legislative session by refusing to vote on the Child Victims Act [CVA], despite Governor Cuomo's repeated promise to survivors that this was the year the legislation would finally pass.
The bill's failure was the topic of a caustic segment on Wednesday night's Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, in which the comedian does her best to understand, "Why have they been blocking this bill for 11 years?"
As State Senator Brad Hoylman notes, the bill would lift New York's restrictive 5-year civil and criminal statute of limitation on childhood sexual assault, sending a lifeline to the majority of survivors who take years to report their abusers. But according to the Manhattan representative, "Churches, Yeshivas, the Boy Scouts of America, they're all trying to quash the ability for survivors of child sex abuse to file claims."
Of those powerful institutions, none has done more to stop the CVA than the Catholic Church. Between 2007 and 2015, the Tim Dolan-led Catholic Conference paid out more than $2.1 million to Albany lobbyists to block the legislation. Meanwhile, Catholic League President Bill Donohue has taunted those pushing for the bill as "losers," and claimed last year that the act is "a vindictive bill pushed by lawyers and activists out to rape the Catholic Church."
"If you're an institution that has hurt so many children that paying civil settlements would make you go bankrupt, maybe you should," quips Bee.
But while it'd be nice to know which senators sided with the church here, that too remains elusive, so long as Senator Majority Leader John Flanagan refuses to let the Child Victims Act come to the floor for a vote. "What gives, John?" Bee asks. "Is it blackmail? Does the church have compromising frescos of you?" (It's a short segment, and maybe TBS isn't the best forum for explaining the baffling mechanizations of Albany, but someone should let Bee know that the Republican leader is only in power thanks to the breakaway democrats in the Independent Democratic Conference).
The segment ends with Bee flashing the numbers of Flanagan and Cuomo on the screen, and urging supporters to voice their disapproval of a government that protects child molesters: "[Child victims] people have schlepped up to Albany enough. If they have to go back to the capital next year, so help me, New Yorkers can make sure you guys don't."