With control of the New York State Senate on the ballot Election Day, state legislation about child abuse by clergy has moved onto the political scene.
There's been a battle raging in Albany the last few years over what to do about highly publicized cases of clerical child abuse. The key issue is how long a victim can wait before coming forward for help and possibly compensation. Many wait years because they have trouble dealing with what happened to them.
Democrats generally favor extending the time limit, while Republicans generally don't. Republicans control the Senate and haven't allowed the Child Victims Act to come up for a vote.
James Faluszczak said lobbyists for the Catholic Church are blocking the Democratic proposals.
"These people are paid for by contributions by ordinary parishioners in the pew on Sundays," Faluszczak said. "This is where some of the collection money goes, goes towards taxes that every diocese assesses of every parish. It goes - some of that - to the lobbying efforts of the New York Catholic Conference."
Faluszczak is a Western New York native who studied at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora before spending 18 years as a priest in the Diocese of Erie, PA. Faluszczak said he was molested as a young man by a priest.
He spoke at a news conference Thursday to endorse Carima El-Behairy, the Democratic candidate against Republican State Sen. Chris Jacobs.
"Most victims of child abuse do not report out until their thirties or forties," said El--Bahairy. "Currently, the age is 26. That is too low. Currently, they are looking to raise it to to 50 with a year lookback, so civil litigation can happen. I'd love to see no age limit. We'll get there. We need to get to 50 right now."
Jacobs responded with the following statement:
"I am a co-sponsor of the Child Victim Reconciliation and Compensation Fund (S8736-A), legislation that is far more comprehensive then the Child Victims Act because it provides recourse for all victims of childhood sexual abuse. It is my hope that this legislation and other reforms will successfully pass in this new legislative session to provide justice for those abused in the past and prevent any child from abuse in the future."