Cardinal lobbies to reject lookback window in child abuse cases
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ALBANY — Timothy Cardinal Dolan urged Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers Tuesday to reject any legislation that gives child abuse victims a window to revive old legal cases.
Dolan, who made an unannounced trip to the state Capitol to lobby the governor and legislative leaders, said the idea of a “lookback would be toxic for us” because it would lead to a flurry of cases against the church.
“The lookback we find to be very strangling,” Dolan told reporters after meeting with Cuomo for more than an hour. “When that happens, the only organization targeted is the Catholic Church.”
A lookback window is among the most controversial components of the Child Victims Act, which would make it easier for abuse survivors to seek justice as adults by extending the timeframes they can bring criminal and civil cases.
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Versions of the bill introduced by Gov. Cuomo and approved by the Democrat-controlled Assembly both include a one-year lookback window.
The GOP-controlled Senate, which has blocked passage of the bill for years, has expressed opposition to any lookback windows.
Advocates for the bill are hoping it will be included as part of the state’s new budget — which must be in place by April 1 — and have been lobbying Senate Republicans in their home districts in an effort to move the legislation forward.
Dolan, who also met with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) during his visit to the Capitol, said the diocese supports versions of the Child Victims Act that do not include the lookback window.
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“We are for a very vigorous reform,” Dolan said.
Child sex abuse survivor Kat Sullivan, who was raped by a teacher in 1998 at a prominent upstate girl's school, ripped Dolan for his “toxic” comments.
“Is it a lookback or priest raping kids that is toxic? I'm just trying to figure out which causes more damage to society,” Sullivan said. “I think the words of a man who knowingly impedes a bill that would provide due process to citizens currently being excluded should be ignored because he represents an institution that not only violated children, but actively worked to cover it up and suppress.”
Marci Hamilton, a lawyer and head of Child USA, said Dolan helped kill a lookback provision in Wisconsin when he was the Archbishop of Milwaukee.
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