(In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that my husband, Dennis Poust, is director of communications for the New York State Catholic Conference and is among those lobbying against this legislation.)
The editorial also goes on to state that the bill does not "explicitly target any institution." Well, let's talk about that. The Markey bill would roll back the statute of limitations for all religious and not-for-profit organizations. Public institutions, however, remain conspicuously absent from the legislation. Put another way: If you or your child were abused by a public school teacher or anyone working for a public institution, you cannot sue the school district under this legislation. You can only file if you have been abused by someone working for the Church, or another religious or non-profit group. Doesn't seem inherently fair, does it, especially in light of the following statistics:
A recent report by the Associated Press showed that in New York State and across the country, the number of children abused by public school employees, such as teachers, overwhelms the number of children abused by Catholic priests. For example, there were 485 reports of abuse in New York State public schools in just the five year period between 2002 and 2006 -- nearly 200 cases more than the total number of priests accused in New York since 1957, a period of more than 50 years. (You can read the AP story focusing on New York by clicking HERE and the AP story focusing on the national perspective by clicking HERE.)
So why not take public schools into the mix and roll back the statute of limitations for sex abuse committed there? Because this is less about justice in general and more about attacking the Catholic Church in particular. While the statistics don't excuse the heinous crimes committed by some priests over the decades, they do shed light on the fact that this is not a crime unique to the Catholic Church. It is happening right under our noses in our public schools while the same officials who cry "fairness" and "abuse" when it comes to the Church look the other way when it comes to taxpayer-funded institutions. Why different rules for different organizations and different children?
Fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope that this lopsided legislation will not see the light of day. New York Gov. David Paterson had this to say to Newsday:
"These types of cases could go back, 20, 30, 40 years, and since the evidence probably doesn't exist in any way to convict the perpetrator . . . the accusation would hinder the career of any person who was accused." (Read the full story HERE.)
Paterson instead favors legislation introduced by Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) that doesn't include the one-year window and adds two years to the statute of limitations. The New York State Catholic Conference is urging the passage of the Lopez bill because it "would extend the statute of limitations prospectively and, importantly, would amend the notice of claim requirement, leveling the playing field for all victims, so that those abused in public institutions would have the same rights as those abused in private institutions." (Read the NYSCC statement HERE.)