Supporters Of Child Victims Act Confident Bill Will Pass In 2019

Mark Meyer Appel, Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus and advocates join in Albany for final push of passage of child victims act in the Capitol. 01.14.2019 Photo: Shimon Gifter

Albany, NY         Supporters of the Child Victims Act are celebrating what they believe will be the final passage of the bill meant to provide justice for victims of sexual abuse.

Gary Greenberg, the driving force behind the Child Victims Act, says New York State needs to eliminate the statute of limitations.

“There should be no statute of limitations on such a heinous crime as child sexual abuse,” he said during a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Albany on Monday.

Mark Meyer Appel, a Jewish advocate has been spearheading this effort for over a decade.

Mr. Appel’s name has come to personify those victims of abuse whose voices have been drowned out in this continuing and painful conversation.
Having started the organization “Voice of Justice” many years ago, Mr. Appel has been an advocate for youth and children’s services and served on the mayor’s task force on mental health. Under the administrations of both Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg, Mr. Appel also served on the board of directors of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation as a mayoral appointee.
Mr. Appel’s dedication also stretched to those children with special needs who had been previously ignored or neglected by the system that was created to serve them. In 1990, Mr. Appel worked with both city and state agencies to establish an early intervention program for special needs kids, kids at risk and learning disabled kids.
Mr. Appel also played a major role in finding jobs for marginalized kids, providing them with appropriate education and offering them a substantial amount of financial support.
“When I worked with youth at risk during programs at my home, I discovered that many of them had been horribly abused, “ Mr. Appel ruefully recalled in a 2012 interview.
“The abuse had a major impact on their lives. It really hurt these kids and the family structure. When kids are abused they have tremendous difficulty trusting anyone anymore. Tragically, the leadership in the frum world has not been in the forefront of helping them and that sense of abandonment triggers anger within these victims,” explained Mr. Appel. 
Having witnessed the emotional scars and trauma of child sexual abuse among those he worked with, Mr. Appel was driven from a source within himself to help expose this otherwise surreptitious phenomenon.
In 2016 Mr. Mark Meyer Appel was in Albany again for the 11th year in a row.  Watch:

New York is one of the worst states in the country in the protection of children, and that stems from inadequate reporting laws and shockingly short statutes of limitations. It appears that the members of the Legislature are now giving the statutes of limitation the serious attention they deserve according to Appel.
On Thursday Tom Andriola and other victims of childhood sexual abuse joined Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple in support of the Child Victims Act. Craig Apple said the worst thing he can tell a victim is “I can’t do anything” and urges politicians on both sides of the aisle to pass the bill. Predators must be punished.  Other advocates asked simply, “what would you do if your kid was sexually abused”?
Karen Tadross, 59, who is a lifelong resident of the Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights voted for Marty Golden for many years and lives across the street from Golden. Tadross changed her vote this past election. Hundreds of people got sick and tired of politicians refusing to care for victims of abuse and those politicians that were a thorn in New York State all lost their elections.  The Senate has flipped from Republican to Democrat because of this one issue. One would think the Republican senators would have taken notice and have the determination to do what is right and be a supporter of the child victims act.
Former Assemblyman Dov Hikind gave one of the most passionate speeches in Albany in 2017 that left many in tears. The speech went viral across social media platforms.

At 7, Gary survived sexual abuse at the hands of serial predator Louis VanWie.

The Child Victims Act failed repeatedly to pass in the Senate mostly due to a one-year “look back” which would allow victims to sue their abusers or organizations that protect them.

The biggest detractors of the bill have been the Catholic Church and some within the Observant Jewish community, which they feel could be vulnerable to civil suits regarding sexual abuse claims.

Greenberg used his own money to form a political action committee to help vote out Republicans who stood in the bill’s way. In November, five seats were flipped from Republican to Democratic in the Senate. He’s now confident that during the 2019 session the democratic majority will pass the bill.

“And the governor will sign the bill and we are going to have a Child Victims Act, hundred percent”, he said before a crowd of lawmakers and supporters.

Heath Bromley says he knows how important the bill is for children and adults. Due to the statute of limitations, his abuser a priest named Gary Mercure escaped justice in New York but not in Massachusetts, while crossing state lines where Mecure took boys on trips for the purpose of sexually assaulting them.

The former priest was convicted of the crimes in that state because Massachusetts does not have a statute of limitations on sexual abuse crimes.

“We should be in that Senate right now passing this law, first. Right now,” Bromley said.

The bill that has passed only in the assembly currently reads that the statute of limitations would end at age 28. Greenberg is pushing for eliminating it altogether.

The Child Victims Act recognizes that the existing statute of limitations provides cover to those who prey on children. It’s long past time to change that dynamic according to advocates, the majority of politicians and law enforcement personnel.

New York is among the most restrictive states in allowing victims of sexual abuse from years ago to call their alleged perpetrators to account. As the law stands, victims have until their 23rd birthday to bring civil and criminal cases.  The Child Victims Act would extend the age to 50 for civil cases and to 28 for felony criminal cases.

Part of the controversy over the law is the inclusion of a one-year “look-back” period during which victims could file lawsuits for assaults dating back decades.

Organizations opposing that law can be presumed to fear its repercussions, knowing that abuses occurred and that no one rescued those children. They are telegraphing their own sense of shame but asking for their actions and inactions to be exempted from a law that is specifically meant, as best as possible, to settle accounts that are long out of balance.

Many religious and educational organizations that had long been criticized for covering up child sexual abuse cases decades ago had for years waged fierce opposition to the legislation, in part claiming that frivolous lawsuits could bankrupt them or overrun the court systems. The years that have elapsed since the alleged abuse took place could also make it difficult for those who are falsely accused to defend themselves, they said.

Greenberg, at Monday’s news conference, noted that while child sexual abuse cases involving “a priest or a rabbi” often garner the most attention, most of the assaults are carried out by family members or someone close to a family.

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