Posts Tagged SOL

The silence of children (locked away in secret archives of the Archdiocese of New York City) / Verdict.justia.com

“The problem for the Catholic bishops on SOL reform is that all of the arguments
against SOL reform don’t hold water.” (Marci Hamilton)

New York lawmakers last week closed their 2017 session in “legislative hell,” as one Senator called it, without resolving a number of important issues, including the Child Victims Act, which would reform New York’s antiquated child sex abuse statutes of limitations (SOLs). It would extend the civil and criminal SOLs, revive expired civil SOLs for one year, and eliminate the “notice of claim” requirement that has hobbled public school victims’ access to justice.

“Governor Andrew Cuomo had endorsed the concept earlier in the year, making him the first state governor to step forward before being asked to sign such a bill. While the assembly had passed a version and the senate appeared to have a majority to vote for it, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, on the next to the last day of the session, blocked its progress from committee to the floor …

“The problem for the Catholic bishops on SOL reform is that all of the arguments against SOL reform don’t hold water …

“They say there will be no evidence from cases long ago and, therefore, they will be at a disadvantage. If I hear ‘memories fade and evidence is lost,’ one more time … But in fact, the bishops have done some great recordkeeping on priests’ sexual assaults on children. Their Secret Archives … have held and still hold much of the information that is needed to prove up a case against a priest, bishop, and/or diocese.”

By Marcia A. Hamilton, Verdict.justia.com — Read more …

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All Victim Survivors Deserve a Full Measure of Justice

Statement from the Catholic Coalition of Conscience
on the Archdiocese of NY Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program

The Catholic Coalition of Conscience and its participating groups (listed below) welcome the announcement by the Archdiocese of New York of the formation of an “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program” designed to help victim-survivors of clerical sexual abuse. Although such an initiative has been delayed for too long, as acknowledged by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the effective implementation of this program could bring much needed aid to victim-survivors who have been denied justice by New York State’s Statute of Limitations (SOL) restrictions governing sexual abuse of children.

Mr. Kenneth R. Feinberg, the independent mediator charged with reviewing cases and making monetary awards, said in the press conference announcing the program that it would be a “model.” Having worked for SOL reform over several years in New York State in the face of strenuous opposition from the Catholic Church, the Catholic Coalition of Conscience respectfully asserts that this program will only be a “model” if it reflects five key principles:

Transparency: The workings of the program are governed by “protocols” which were reviewed and approved by members of its Independent Oversight Committee: former NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Judge Loretta A. Preska and Dr. Jeanette Cueva, M.D. Presumably these protocols cover such issues as mandatory non-disclosure agreements. These protocols must be disclosed to the public, so that victim-survivors contemplating participation in the program can understand the ground rules under which it will operate.

Inclusion: If the aim of the program is to promote reconciliation, why have no members of the victim-survivor community been invited to join the Oversight Committee to help guide and shape the operation of the program? The commission on sexual abuse formed by Pope Francis includes victims of abuse; should not this archdiocesan program be at least as inclusive?

Generosity: The awards made by the program must be made public, so that the Catholic community at large can evaluate the fairness of the awards in light of similar settlements made by other dioceses and entities of the Catholic Church. The awards must be generous, given the many years that victim-survivors have had to wait before receiving any meaningful response from the Catholic Church. The program should also allow victim-survivors more than two months (to the end of January 2017, according to published reports) to decide whether or not to participate in the first phase of the program. Given Cardinal Dolan’s own admission that such a program should have been implemented long before now, a two-month deadline is demeaning to victim-survivors who face the complex and potentially irreversible decision on whether or not to participate.

Accountability: The names of any sex abusers and enablers who are identified as part of the program should be published. If accusations against these accusers are credible enough to merit monetary awards, the Catholic community of New York and the general public need to know the names of the abusers. Further, the Archdiocese of New York should renounce all opposition to SOL reform legislation in the State of New York. The new archdiocesan program in no way negates the need for comprehensive SOL reform, which is urgently needed so that all children can be better protected from sexual abuse, and all victims denied access to the courts by archaic SOL limits can have the opportunity to seek redress.

Reconciliation: The goal of the program must be to achieve true Christian reconciliation between victim-survivors and the Catholic faithful. This demands more than monetary awards. Victim-survivors have repeatedly said that what they want most is to be heard and not dismissed or feel violated anew by aggressive court proceedings. Church leaders and members must meet with victim-survivors who are willing to re-engage with the faith community, and listen to their stories with compassion and understanding. The damage done by sexual abuse lasts a lifetime; programmatic support for victim-survivors should be strong and ongoing, not a one-time event. Beyond monetary awards, the Catholic Church must humbly ask forgiveness in this year of mercy from victim-survivors and their families, including those who lost a loved one to suicide.

The Catholic Coalition of Conscience calls on the Archdiocese of New York and Mr. Feinberg to revise the operation and procedures of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program immediately in accord with these principles, so that victim-survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church receive the full measure of justice they deserve.

October 20, 2016
Call to Action Metro New York
Call to Action Upstate New York
Voice of the Faithful New York

Media Contact: Francis X. Piderit, Voice of the Faithful New York Leadership Team, 917-916-7575 (Cell Phone), PideritVOTF@piderit.com

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Catholic church leaders fight efforts to open old child sexual assault cases / North Country Public Radiio

There is a growing effort around the country to make it easier to prosecute or bring civil lawsuits against people who sexually abuse children. Many states have already extended or eliminated the statute of limitations for reporting sex crimes against kids.

“But the push to punish pedophiles has met fierce opposition from Roman Catholic organizations, who say they could be unfairly targeted and their institutions could be bankrupted.

“These proposed laws don’t just target pedophile priests …”

By Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio — Click here to read or listen to the rest of this story.

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Bishop Murphy’s comments on SOL reform are only latest Church salvo against abuse survivors

The Catholic Church has long sought to deny victims of clergy sexual abuse one of their only means of seeking justice—civil lawsuits. By fighting reform of state statute of limitations (SOL) laws, the Church helps prevent survivors from bringing suit against perpetrators and those who cover up the abuse.

Rockville Centre, N.Y., Diocese Bishop William Murphy’s comments in a letter to Long Island parishioners earlier this month are only the latest salvo by the Church against SOL reform.

In fact, the Catholic Church, “through its bishops and state Catholic conferences, is the most powerful institution opposing better child protection legislation in the country, bar none,” according to educator and reform advocate Sister Maureen Turlish.

Murphy’s letter, reprinted in many parish bulletins, sought to influence Catholic voters during midterm elections held Nov. 4. SOL reform was not on the New York ballot; nevertheless, Murphy took the opportunity to say The Child Victims Act, SOL reform legislation sponsored by New York State Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, “seeks to penalize only the Catholic Church for past crimes of child sex abuse.” He said the bill “must be recognized for what it is. Those who support that should be opposed by those of us who know how effectively and permanently the Church has remedied that horrific scourge of the last decade.”

SOL laws are essentially deadlines beyond which victims cannot bring civil suits and prosecutors cannot bring charges. But such suits usually are not brought for many years. Studies have shown that the memory of abuse can be suppressed even into adulthood, and as the crime is steeped in secrecy and shame, decades could pass before a victim seeks justice.

“A vast body of research indicates that the effects of childhood sexual abuse often span a lifetime. The opportunity to seek justice should last just as long,” attorney and writer Jon Wertheim concluded in a 2011 CNN column during the Penn State and Syracuse sports abuse scandals.

Actually, the Markey bill, like other SOL reform laws, does not single out the Catholic Church. The bill covers all private institutions and includes families, where most child sexual abuse occurs. The Catholic Church, however, has fought SOL reform in nearly every state where such laws have been proposed, including New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware, even hiring lobbyists and public relations firms in some states to bolster letters to parishioners and admonitions from the pulpit.

This opposition is especially scandalous considering the Church has shielded pedophile priests from prosecution and refused to discipline bishops involved in covering up crimes.

Murphy, who was accused of shielding pedophile priests while vicar general of the Archdiocese of Boston, has been fighting the Markey bill since 2009, and called it an “annual threat” in his letter. As for how “effectively and permanently” the Church has dealt with the “horrific scourge,” Murphy is still a bishop, even though the Massachusetts attorney general reported he “placed a higher priority on preventing scandal and providing support to alleged abusers than on protecting children from sexual abuse.” Revelations of clergy sexual abuse also continue to range from Ireland to Australia, and because of suppressed memory and other factors, we may not know for years whether the Church’s present child protection policies prevent child abuse.

Proponents of such reform, such as Yeshiva University law professor Marci Hamilton, have called SOL reform “the primary front for child sex abuse victims.” She has said that, “if the statute of limitations has expired, there won’t be any justice.”

Always on the moral high ground, the Catholic Church should be first to want justice for clergy sexual abuse survivors. Justice, according to the Church’s catechism is “the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.” Fr. James Connell, a Wisconsin canon lawyer and a founder of Catholic Whistleblowers, which attempts to expose the cover-up of abuse by Catholic Church leadership, has applied this sentiment to the clergy sexual abuse scandal. He says, “Only by living in the truth, the complete truth, can human action and speech generate justice and healing. Without truth there can be no justice and without justice, no healing.” Connell first made these remarks during the 2012 national conference of the Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful®.

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