Samantha Bee took a break from dragging the Trump administration during last night's episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee to focus on more local issues. Specifically, she decided to discuss the Child Victims Act, a bill aimed at helping survivors of child sexual abuse in the state of New York.
The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Brad Hoylman, "revives civil actions for certain sex offenses committed against a person less than eighteen years of age." The goal is to increase the statue of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. At the moment, survivors must file a claim by the age of 23 or the statute expires. If the Child Victims Act became law, that cutoff age would be raised to 28 in criminal cases and 50 in civil cases.
According to Hoylman, the 23-year-old cutoff is "the most restrictive statue of limitations in the country."
So, it may seem like this would be a measure legislators could get behind to give survivors at least some sort of justice, right? Well, Senate Republicans didn't seem to think so. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan killed the bill Wednesday night — again.
Bee had one question: "Why have they been blocking this bill for 11 years?"
The answer? Institutions such as churches and the Boy Scouts of America have lobbied pretty hard against the bill. In fact, New York's Catholic Conference spent $2.1 million between 2007 and 2015 to lobby against several proposed measures, including the Child Victims Act.
"Way to fight the stereotype, guys! Does your flock know where the bake sale money is going?" Bee said. "You know what? Every day Catholics want to make things right, not have their church known as Our Lady of the Perpetual Bad Touch."
So, why do these groups oppose the bill? Hoylman told Bee religious and youth organizations presumably fear that the passage of the Child Victims Act could potentially bankrupt them. Yep.
"I don't know, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that if you're an institution that has hurt so many children that paying out civil settlements would make you go bankrupt, maybe you should," she said.
Some people lay low and don't say publicly that they're against the bill. Others, like Bill Donohue, president of the "religious and civil rights" organization Catholic League, are very outspoken about their contempt for the legislation.
Majority Leader Flanagan has never allowed the Child Victims Act to be introduced to the floor and go through the debate and vote process. Bee ended the episode by putting his phone number, along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's, on the big screen. (They're 518-455-2071 and 518-474-8390, in case you're interested.)
Flanagan didn't give an explanation on why he killed the bill again or why he's presumptively siding with the logic of people like Donohue. Maybe he would like to explain it to his constituents, instead.