Roughly a dozen protesters marched up and down Cayuga Avenue in East Northport Friday morning greeting residents as they headed to work with chants of “hey hey, ho ho, predators have got to go.”
The New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators, a coalition of child sex abuse survivors, advocates, and advocacy organizations, stood outside state Sen. John Flanagan’s (R) home to protest his opposition to the Child Victims Act March 23. They carried signs reading “Stop protecting predators & start protecting kids” as well as blown up copies of the New York Daily News front cover “Protectors of the Predators” featuring Flanagan’s photo.
The rally’s aim was to push the Senate Majority Leader to use his position among Republicans to negotiate approval of the legislation that would open up the state’s statute of limitations of child-sex abuse crimes.
“I think that the power and energy of the ‘Me Too’ movement has really opened people’s eyes,” said Kathryn Robb, a Manhasset resident and child sexual abuse survivor. “We’re saying enough is enough, time is up. The laws in New York need to change. They are archaic and protect the predators, not victims.”
The Child Victims Act, if passed, would extend the time that child-sex abuse victims have to file a lawsuit from age 23 to age 28 in criminal cases, and up to age 50 in civil cases. In addition, the passage of the bill would open up a one-year period where survivors could file claims previously not permitted under the current law.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) included the Child Victims Act in his 2018 executive budget for the first time, after the bill was passed by the state assembly in 2017. The March 23 rally coincides with the last weekend of negotiations before the April 1 deadline to approve the state budget.
The act has been blocked by Senate Republicans numerous times during the past 14 years, according to Marci Hamilton, a founding member of the New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators and CEO of CHILD USA, a nonprofit think tank that seeks to end child abuse and neglect through evidence-based research.
“We are out here to tell Senator Flanagan it’s time to finally put this bill to rest and pass it,” Hamilton said. “He has personally refused to meet with us.”
Sen. Flanagan and his spokesperson were not immediately available for comment in response to this morning’s protest.
In a pre-Election Day 2016 sit down with TBR News Media and his then Democratic challenger Peter Magistrale, Flanagan addressed the Child Victims Act and statutes of limitation.
“We have statutes of limitations for very cogent reasons and no matter how emotional a subject may be, witness availability, evidence, all those things have a salutary effect in terms of what happens,” he said.
Hamilton said the protest group has plans this afternoon to meet with state Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) in her office to discuss her position on the Child Victims Act and attempt to negotiate her support of the bill’s passage.