Senate GOP blocks the Child Victims Act following contributions from Catholic groups

Republican gubernatorial candidates Marc Molinaro and John DeFrancisco are being lambasted by activists for their refusal to back the Child Victims Act.

Advocates are demanding Majority Leader John Flanagan to bring the bill up for a vote on the Senate floor this month – something that Flanagan and Deputy Majority Leader DeFrancisco have been unwilling to do. Both Senators oppose the bill and have defended the current statute of limitations, which has infuriated survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

The Republican leadership in the State Senate (Majority Leader John Flanagan, Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, and Independent Democrat Leader Jeff Klein, whom together control the chamber) have all taken money from “Catholics Count PAC”, an independent campaign finance vehicle ostensibly intending to secure a tuition tax credit that would benefit Catholic Schools.

The Church is aggressively opposing the Child Victims Act.

Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long (who has also taken money from the Catholics Count PAC), holds an inordinate amount of influence over the GOP caucus, and is refusing to allow Flanagan and DeFrancisco to allow a vote on the bill.

If you review the list of contributions below, you may find the timing of the contributions suspect, occurring just as the Child Victims Act begins to make its way through the State Assembly.

On the attached list of contributions, you will note a $250,000 contribution in April of 2016 to New Yorkers for a Balanced Albany, a group that was premised on advocating for Catholic Schools. But barely a month after that contribution, Deputy Majority Leader DeFrancisco defended his opposition to the Child Victims Act in an interview with the NY Daily News (click the link to watch the video). He is currently a candidate for Governor.

How shameful that victims had to hire a lobbyist earlier this week to advocate for such basic justice.  DeFrancisco has sparred with the bill’s advocates in Albany – and Flanagan has, on many occasions, refused to speak with victims lobbying at the State Capitol. The Church is aggressively opposed to the bill, concerned that it invites a wave of claims that could drive churches, schools, and youth programs into bankruptcy.

 

Most individuals who are sexually abused as children never report it. Often, the trauma leads to alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicide, or other psychological problems. Last year, eight States have extended or eliminated statutes of limitations for the reporting of childhood sexual abuse.

New York has among the most archaic laws in the Nation, requiring most child sex-abuse victims to sue by the age of 23 – which is 19 years before the average age that victims report such abuse. The bill also creates a one-year window during which victims can bring civil claims for abuses that took place decades ago.

The Child Victims Act, if passed by the State Senate, extends the statute of limitations to age 50 in civil cases, and to age 28 in criminal cases. The proposed bill has widespread bipartisan support — passing the Assembly in 2017 by a vote of 139 to 7. Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to sign it.

Did these contributions, premised on advancing State support for Catholic schools, influence the Senate leadership’s incomprehensible opposition to the Child Victim’s Act?

Contributor Amt Contr. Date Recipient Filing Sched
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 300 22-Aug-17 CITIZENS FOR DEFRANCISCO 2018 January Periodic C
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 300 25-Aug-15 CITIZENS FOR DEFRANCISCO 2016 January Periodic C
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 1,000.00 17-Oct-17 CONSERVATIVE PARTY NYS (HEADQUARTERS ACCOUNT) 2018 January Periodic P
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 5,000.00 30-May-17 CONSERVATIVE PARTY NYS (HEADQUARTERS ACCOUNT) 2017 July Periodic P
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 1,000.00 16-Mar-17 CONSERVATIVE PARTY NYS (HEADQUARTERS ACCOUNT) 2017 July Periodic P
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 5,000.00 16-Jun-15 CONSERVATIVE PARTY NYS (HEADQUARTERS ACCOUNT) 2015 July Periodic P
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 3,000.00 9-Jun-15 FRIENDS OF JOHN FLANAGAN 2015 July Periodic C
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 5,000.00 8-Apr-16 NEW YORK REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE – REPORTING 2016 27 Post Special C
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 35 27-Feb-17 NEW YORK STATE CONSERVATIVE PARTY (CONFERENCE ACCOUNT) (NYSCP) 2017 July Periodic P
CATHOLICS FOR INDEPENDENT ACTION 250,000.00 6-Apr-16 NEW YORKERS FOR A BALANCED ALBANY 2016 27 Post Special C
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 1,500.00 4-Dec-15 NYS SENATE REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE 2016 January Periodic C
CATHOLICS COUNT PAC 10,000.00 11-Jun-15 NYS SENATE REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE 2015 July Periodic C
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