“Child sex abuse survivors and advocates Tuesday targeted state Senate Republicans for blocking passage of a bill to make it easier for victims to seek justice as adults.
On the day the Legislature returned after its two-week mid-winter break, a group created by former speed skater and child sex abuse survivor Bridie Farrell paid for at least three trucks parked outside the state Capitol with messages aimed at lawmakers.
One directly targeted Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, the Suffolk County Republican who hasn’t allowed the Child Victims Act to the floor for a vote in previous years.
“How Come Senator Flanagan?” asked one message.
“Protect Kids Not Pedophiles,” read another.
A third chided: “And Still No Vote?”
Inside the Capitol, a group of survivors and advocates lobbied some Republican senators or their staffers and held a press conference to say “enough is enough” — frustrated the bill has been stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate for more than a decade.
“As survivors and advocates we are demanding that this bill be allowed to the floor for a vote,” said Stephen Jimenez, a survivor and co-founder of New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators. “Stop the obstruction.”
State Senate Democrats held their own press conference with advocates later Tuesday to call on the Republicans to ensure the Child Victims Act is enacted as part of the final state budget.
Child sex abuse survivor Kat Sullivan urged Senate Republicans, including Flanagan, “to use their brains.”
Gov. Cuomo for the first time included the measure in his budget submission in January. The final budget is due by April 1.
The only way the Child Victims Act would not be included is if the Republicans demand it be removed as part of a final deal, and the governor and Assembly acquiesce.
The Democrat-controlled Assembly has passed a version of the Child Victims Act several times over the past dozen years, including in 2017.
But each time, the bill, which has been opposed by a number of groups, including religious organizations like the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Jewish community, died in the Republican-dominated Senate.
A key roadblock is a provision to create a one-year window that would enable sexual abuse victims who can no longer bring civil cases under current law to do so.
Sen. Brad Hoylman, the Manhattan Democrat sponsoring the Child Victims Act in his chamber, believes the inclusion of the measure in Cuomo’s budget proposal could be a game-changer.
“I think we are at the precipice of justice,” Hoylman said. “We have a fighting chance this year. “
He also warned there will likely be repercussions if the Child Victims Act falls out of the final budget.
Advocates were scheduled to meet with state Sen. James Tedisco (R-Schenctady) and Sen. George Amedore (R-Rotterdam) Tuesday afternoon, and also with the aides of at least two other GOP senators.
Advocates last week also met Flanagan’s staff after months of requests.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif had no comment.
The state Catholic Conference, led by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, has said it would support a bill to eliminate the statute of limitations moving forward for criminal child sex abuse cases, and to expand the time in which a civil lawsuit could be filed.
But survivors like Jimenez and advocates Tuesday called the one-year window to revive old cases “non-negotiable.”
“We are not accepting a watered-down version of this bill,” Jimenez said.””