A Roman Catholic diocese wants the New York supreme court to throw out new lawsuits filed by childhood sex abuse survivors, challenging the constitutionality of a groundbreaking law that lets survivors sue no matter how much time has passed.
But the Rockville Centre’s filing argues that the Child Victims Act violates the New York state constitution’s due process clause. Survivors could have sued before the statute of limitations on the abuse ran out, the motion also argues.
The diocese’s opposition to the Child Victims Act breaks with the Catholic Bishops of New York State’s lobbying arm, the Catholic Conference. That group had long opposed the Act — but days before it passed, when its success looked all but assured, the Conference tweeted that it would now support the bill after an amendment made it clear that public institutions could be sued.
“Despite the Church’s earlier support for the historic Child Victims Act, they are now decisively moving to shield predators and hide the heinous crimes that occurred under their watch,” Jennifer Freeman, a Marsh Law Firm attorney who is representing more than 700 New York childhood sexual abuse survivors, said in a statement. “With this motion, the Diocese of Rockville and officials within the Catholic Church are demonstrating their cowardice, hypocrisy, and refusal to do what is right.”