Malone Explains Stance Against Child Victim's Act

Supports "a" child victim's act, but not current one

Mike Baggerman
March 22, 2018 - 4:57 am

Bishop Richard Malone (WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger)


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - As more victims of clergy sexual abuse come forward, advocates and the victims continue their push for the New York State Legislature to pass the Child Victim's Act.

The bill would extend the legal time frames that currently restrict the ability for victims to bring criminal and civil cases forward. It would also create a one-year revival period, allowing survivors previously barred from bringing a civil claim the ability to bring new action.

"I'm more hopeful this year than any (that it will pass this year)," Robert Hoatson, an advocate on behalf of the clergy sex abuse victims, told WBEN. "The assembly passed it 139 to 7. It's the senate republicans who are blocking this bill."

The bill specifically would change the statute of limitations. The five-year statute of limitations on criminal and civil charges currently begins once the victim turns 18 years old. If passed, the assembly bill would allow the statute to begin at age 23 on criminal charges, and up to age 50 for civil action. A similar bill was introduced in the state senate. 

But Bishop Richard Malone from the Buffalo Catholic Diocese said he does not support the child victim's act in its current form, though he does support aspects of it.

"(I support one) that extends the time limit that victims have to come forward civilly and criminally," Malone said in a press conference on Wednesday. "We think that should be extended. But we're opposed to the look-back legislation for the reason of jurisprudence.

Malone was in Albany on Tuesday with other bishops in the state to meet with politicians about a wide range of issues including the Child Victim's Act and to discuss issues like abortion.

LISTEN: Bishop Malone discusses the Child Victim's Act and the release of names on Tuesday

He questions how an individual who has been dead for several years can defend himself in a civil case. He also worries it could be harmful to the church's community initiatives.

"It could devastate the work of Catholic Charities and the many many ministries we offer in the Diocese," Malone added. "Keep in mind, Catholic Charities helped over 150,000 people, including victims of sexual abuse."

Hoatson, though, blasted the bishop for his visit on Albany.

"He's claimed that he's very sensitive and compassionate to the victims but then he goes to the state capitol to prevent legislation which would give these people hope and help," Hoatson said. "It's just astonishing to me."

Hoatson said that even if a lawsuit was brought forward following someone's death, the burden of proof is still on the plaintiff.

"For them to say it would be particular burdensome on the diocese means they're afraid that they'd have to settle all these cases and they'd have to open up their pocketbooks," Hoatson added.

Malone said on Wednesday that the diocese helped one individual recover from his abuse case by agreeing to purchase him a pick-up truck. 

James Faluszczak, a victim of clergy sex abuse in his teens, said that churches should be liable financially. 

"I don't want to see anybody take away from the good work that the diocese does," Faluszczak said. "...but one thing the civil side of this case can - some people need money, by the way, to reconstitute their value and to rebuild, so I'm obviously in favor of that- but for crying out loud, just open the files. Civil lawsuits force discovery and I would love the chance to see the file of the man who abused me."

Malone said he will not release the case files of the alleged abusers. 

The Child Victim's Act could be passed as early this April as part of the state budget.

LISTEN: Robert Hoatson discusses Malone's Tuesday visit in Albany


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