With Democrats poised to control both houses of the state Legislature in 2019, passage of the Child Victims’ Act is expected to be an early priority.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated during a visit to Buffalo yesterday that this is a top priority of his, too. Reporters asked Cuomo for his thoughts on the widely reported issues regarding former priests within the Buffalo Catholic Diocese who have been accused of sexual impropriety.
“I am aware of it,” he responded. “I wouldn’t say I’m a student of it, but the revelations are disturbing. And look, this is not just Buffalo. It’s been all across the country.”
The governor said he believes the church procrastinated when it came to acting on accusations and, as a result, the revelations continue to get worse. He said that’s one reason why it’s important to pass the CVA in the coming year – although he would like to see it done in a manner that doesn’t result in bankruptcy.
“I am a Catholic,” Cuomo said. “I’m a former altar boy. I have great respect for the church, but the premise of Catholicism is respect for all individuals and justice for all individuals, and that’s what the Child Victim’s Act is, in my opinion.”
Critics of the proposed legislation have argued a brief lookback window could open up the church to so many lawsuits it could potentially bankrupt the institution.
“Obviously, nobody wants to see a diocese or the Catholic Church bankrupt,” the governor said. “So how it is done is very important. But nor do I think you can say: Well, this may cost the church money so we shouldn’t do it. There’s a long step between acknowledgment and justice and financial catastrophe.”
Cuomo also said he understands there are valid reasons for the existence of statutes of limitations, but the circumstances with child victims, especially with the church, is so unique, he believes they should be altered.
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