Hundreds of survivors of childhood sex abuse and their families and friends were joined by advocacy organizations from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania on June 5th to march across the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate broad public support for Assemblywoman Margaret Markey's Child Victims Act.
The Assemblywoman was joined by Senator Brad Hoylman who sponsors the Child Victims Act in the NY State Senate.
The bill will eliminate the civil and criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes. It will also create a one-year civil "window" to get justice for adult survivors of abuse and help expose pedophiles and those who have hidden them.
At a rally on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge after the "Walk for the Window" march, Assemblywoman Markey said: "My sincere thanks to you and all those who continue to speak out on behalf of survivors and children. Your voices and strong support reflected by this march gives me real hope that the Legislature will, at long last, act in 2016 to bring justice to survivors and help protect children by exposing predators who continue to abuse new generations of kids."
— Mike Pistorino (@MikePistorino) June 5, 2016
Senator Hoylman, Senate sponsor of the Child Victims Act, said: "For too long, survivors of child sexual abuse have been denied their rightful day in court. I am honored to join survivors, advocates and lawmakers alike in our Walk for a Window. We're putting Albany on notice that we're prepared to go the distance to change New York's woefully inadequate statutes of limitation, open a look-back window for past abuses, and help bring comfort to all survivors."
According to Professor Marci Hamilton, noted author and national expert on statute of limitations issues, "New York is one of the worst states in the US for child sex abuse victims but excellent for pedophiles and the institutions that cover up for them. Now NY will be the first state where so many survivors, supporters, and organizations join together to march for basic children's civil rights."
Survivor and champion speed skater Bridie Farrell, helped organize the event and was emcee at the rally, said: "No one, no community, no religion, no sport, no family is immune to sexual violence, crime, and trauma. Child sexual violence is not a single crime. The resulting paralysis lasts for years and is never forgotten in a lifetime. It is time for Governor Cuomo, Senator Flanagan, and Speaker Hastie to help victims feel freedom and safety, and see to it that pedophiles pay for their crimes. We have only one choice: to protect our children, not predators."
Survivors Ana Wagner and Chaim Levin, principal organizers of the march, were among the speakers at the rally. Ana Wagner, said: "I will do everything in my power to ensure that other children do not have to go through the sexual abuse that I had to endure for years." Chaim Levin, added: "These laws have allowed abusers to get off without consequence for too long and it's time to change. We will not stop until we see these draconian laws changed."
Peter Brooks of the Horace Mann Action Coalition said, "New York's short statute of limitations provides a perverse incentive for institutions to cover up abuse, greatly increasing the size and scope of harm. End the SOL to end the incentive for schools to hide crimes going forward. And open a window for justice to identify known abusers still working with children right now."
When he spoke at the rally, Ron Savage, who had reported he was molested by hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa, was supported by a contingent from Zulu Nation. "This march means... I can finally breathe from keeping the pain locked up in me for decades, from being molested as a young teenager."
Kathryn Robb, a survivor of family abuse on Long Island, said, "This is a powerful movement in which truth, justice and the safety of children shall see the light of day. The secrets, lies, cover-ups and protection of predators can only exist in a room without Windows. We are called forward by the light of Justice."
Survivor and award-winning journalist Stephen Jimenez has criticized New York's Catholic Church officials in New York for continuing to spend vast sums of money lobbying against the Child Victims Act. He said: "During his visit to the US last year, Pope Francis.... promised 'zealous vigilance' and 'accountability for all,' yet Catholic leaders in New York are betraying that promise by continuing to hide truths that the public has every right to know."
Michael Polenberg, of Safe Horizon, the nation's leading victim service provider, said: "It is critically important for survivors to be able to hold their abusers accountable in a court of law. We strongly urge New York's lawmakers to stand on the side of children and pass this much-needed reform bill without further delay."
Among the organizations participating in the June 5th event were: National Black Church Initiative, Safe Horizon, National Council of Young Israel, Horace Mann Action Coalition, Jewish Community Watch, Catholic Coalition of Conscience, Voice of the Faithful, CHILD USA, MaleSurvivor, Road to Recovery, Catholic Whistleblowers, Massachusetts Citizens for Children, BishopAccountability.org, SOL-Reform, Parents Against Predators, Kol v'Oz, Uri L'tzedek, United Support Network, Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), Noble 9 Collective, Voice of Justice-NY, Bridge Advocacy Center, AHEART Foundation, NYS Downstate Crime Victims Coalition, Crime Victims Treatment Center (CVTC), Stop Abuse Campaign, Mental Health Association of New York, NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, SNAP-NY, SNAP-NJ, Call to Action-Metro NY, Call to Action-Upstate NY..
Pictured on Brooklyn Bridge: Assemblywoman Margaret Markey and State Senator Brad Hoylman lead march across Brooklyn Bridge to lower Manhattan rally in support of the Child Victims Act of NY. New York is one of the worst states in all of America for how victims of child sex abuse are treated. The bill would completely eliminate the statute of limitations of these crimes and open a one-year civil window so that adult survivors of abuse can get justice. The reform would also help expose pedophiles who have avoided responsibility for their crimes and hold those who have hidden them accountable. From left are Michael Pollenberg, Safe Horizon; survivor and march organizer Chaim Levin; survivor Steve Jimenez; survivor Kathryn Robb; Assemblywoman Markey; "Spotlight" actor Neal Huff; survivor Philip Saviano, real-life "Spotlight" figure portrayed by Huff; Senator Holylman; hip-hop entertainer Ronald Savage; Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, a CVA co-sponsor; and survivor Ana Wagner, march organizer.
ORGANIZER & MEDIA CONTACTS: Bridie Farrell, 607-280-6606 , firstname.lastname@example.org; Chaim Levin, 917-932-5394, email@example.com; Ana Wagner, 347-882-3259, firstname.lastname@example.org; Prof. Marci Hamilton, 215-353-8984, Hamilton.Marci@gmail.com; Michael Polenberg, 646-265-7248, michael.polenberg@SafeHorizon.org; Mike Armstrong (Media for Assemblywoman Marge Markey), 917-279-8437, email@example.com; Noah Gardy (Press Secretary, Senator Brad Hoylman), 201-218-6310, firstname.lastname@example.org