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Samantha Bee slams State Senate’s refusal to vote on Queens lawmakers’ Child Victims Act

Screenshot via YouTube/Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

The Child Victims Act, introduced repeatedly by Queens lawmakers with the aim of giving sex abuse victims their fair day in court, passed the Assembly but didn’t come to a vote in the State Senate for yet another session. Now a prominent comic and television host is making this state bill a national battle.

Samantha Bee, host of TBS’ “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” spoke out on her June 21 episode about the Child Victims Act and slammed the State Senate’s Republican leader, John Flanagan, for failing to bring it to the floor before this year’s session ended.

The Child Victims Act (CVA), sponsored most recently by Assemblyman Mike Miller of Glendale, was approved by the Democratic-led Assembly earlier this month. Prior to this year, former Assemblywoman Margaret Markey of Maspeth had been the bill’s key sponsor and introduced it every session; she lost her re-election campaign last year.

The CVA looks to extend New York’s statute of limitations which currently allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring their abuser to criminal court until their 23rd birthday — five years after they legal become an adult. Under the CVA, victims would have until their 28th birthday to bring their abusers to criminal court, and until their 50th birthday to bring civil action against their abuser.

The bill would also create a one-year window which would allow victims to start a civil action, and would allow courts to consider claims by those who were previously dismissed or were not heard at all because of the current law’s limitations.

“Victims of childhood sexual abuse carry the trauma and pain with them for the rest of their lives,” said Miller in a statement. “That’s why we must do all we can to empower victims, allow them more time to seek justice and help them move on with their lives.”

The legislation passed by the Assembly would also treat public and private entities equally by removing the current notice of claim requirement for public entities, which states any individual who wants to sue a public entity must notify them of their intent within 90 days; as well as require judges to undergo additional training for cases involving the sexual abuse of minors; and give these revived civil cases a trial preference so they are more rapidly moved forward in court.

But the CVA has been opposed in recent years by religious and youth organizations who believe the bill, were it to become law, would open the door to a new round of litigation that could ultimately bankrupt these institutions.

The State Senate’s refusal to take up the CVA this year got Bee’s attention. At the end of her nearly 6 minute monologue, she provides phone numbers for Flanagan and Governor Andrew Cuomo in an effort to get viewers to call them about the CVA.

“These people (referencing child sex abuse survivors who’ve actively supported the CVA) have schlepped up to Albany enough. If they have to go back to the Capitol next year, so help me, New Yorkers can make sure you guys don’t,” Bee said to Flanagan and Cuomo at the end of her segment.

Video via Youtube/Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

Meanwhile, the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens announced on Thursday a new program that will monetarily compensate childhood victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, head of the diocese is implementing The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) which will allow survivors of sexual abuse by priests or deacons of the Diocese to seek financial compensation.

“I am well aware that no amount of money will ever heal the scars of abuse, but this compensation program is a concrete expression of our contrition and our desire to make amends,” DiMarzio said in a statement.

For more information on the IRCP and how the program works, visit the diocese’s website at https://dioceseofbrooklyn.org.

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