Levin’s Boss: Fighting Against Abuse Victims?

33rd District City Council candidate Steve Levin’s boss, State Assemblyman/Brooklyn Kingmaker Vito Lopez has fought tooth and nail against proposed state legislation that would give victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to file a claim against their abuser.

Mr. Lopez and the opposition railed so hard against the bill, that the stress of the struggle landed sponsor Assemblymember Margaret Markey of Queens in the hospital on June 23, at the end of the legislative session.

In April, Levin’s boss authored what critics called a “watered down” alternative to Markey’s Child Victims Act. One of the key differences in Lopez’s proposal was the elimination of a one year “window” allowing victims the chance to file a claim against an abuser regardless of when the crimes were committed.

In April, Jewish Week wrote:

According to advocates for victims of child sexual abuse, opening a one-year window in which currently time-barred claims can be brought is crucial. This, they say, is because it typically takes victims decades to come to terms with their abuse, let alone feel able to speak out about it and confront their abusers publicly. Those who support a window note its role not only in providing some measure of justice to victims, but also in identifying previously unnamed sexual predators, who most likely would otherwise continue preying on children.

“Retribution never brings about justice, nor will the crippling of the church’s ability to carry out its mission serve any purpose,” Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn tells the New York Times.

Here’s Lopez in his own words explaining his point of view, basically saying that he’s choosing to protect institutions rather than risk “frivolous” law suits from victim’s of sexual abuse against the Catholic Church et al.:

Here’s a WPIX-TV report on a recent protest at Lopez’s office:

Markey’s bill was withdrawn. Her spokesperson tells the New York Times, “The leadership has told us they will put it on the agenda if she holds her votes with comfortable margins.”

BHB has reached out to the Levin campaign asking if the candidate is simpatico with his boss on this issue.

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  • Joralemon

    This bill might be dead but this sure says a lot about the sort of boss Levin has. If he says he disagrees with Boss Lopez I’d find that hard to believe.

  • Real BK Progressive

    A number of the “progressive” Brooklyn blogs have challenged Assemblyman Lopez for his stance on this issue. I have to say the point of view expressed in this article is one I don’t understand. I believe there is A LOT of misinformation regarding this bill. Several blogs, including this one, have been very quick to criticize Lopez on this issue. These “progressives” have shown that they do not have a true civil liberties progressive agenda. When faced with taking the correct but unpopular position of defending the rights of the accused, these “progressives” have decided to join the angry mob in attempting to strip away the freedoms guaranteed to all citizens, regardless of your personal feelings about their conduct.

    Let me see if I can tell a more unbias version of this story:

    1. The Markey Bill seeks to retroactively change the statue of limitations period for these offenses. Ex post facto law making goes against the very foundation of the civil liberties our Constitution is suppose to protect. If people in this movement believe the limitations period is unduly short, they should lobby their legislature to change it in the future (exactly the bill the Assemblyman introduced), not look to the past to create causes of action not available.

    2. The ACLU and other organizations have frequently reported on the danger to constitutional due process protections retroactive increases in statute of limitations possess. Frequently the accused is not able to face their accuser, is unable to bring the best evidence in their defense due to the passage of time, and is confronted with testimony that has a high probability of inaccuracy due to a number of factors including false memories, passage of time, and the influence of psycho-therapy.

    3. True progressives, most notably Norman Coleman, have come out against the Markey Bill for these very issue. Additionally, the ACLU has opposed the Markey Bill on the same grounds. At its heart this is a bill meant to give into the anger of segments of the public by taking away the civil liberties the accused. Civil liberties mean nothing if we don’t apply them to those people who’s conduct offends us most.

    4. It is disappointing to see downtown “progressives” so quick to dismiss the civil liberties of the accused in an effort to score points against Lopez. It has always been the task of the progressive movement to protect citizen’s rights no matter how repugnant their conduct may be. Here, the very people that should be defending these rights are adding to the misinformation that has led to egregious government actions in the past like the PATRIOT ACT.

    I do not expect this blogger or others to realize their error and apologize but I hope more of us will stand up for what is right and not what is popular and use our energies to defend civil liberties, not destroy them.

    I would hope the progressive movement in Brooklyn would not be so quick to dispense with civil rights because it may make headlines to point out that Assemblyman Lopez stands on the unpopular, but correct, side of justice and civil liberties.

  • The Where

    Real – you lost me after the first sentence.

    Protecting the Church here is dumb. Believing that there will a flood of frivolous lawsuits is dumb. Not providing a proper forum to vet any claims is dumb. Trying to silence victims under the guise of protecting programs for the poor is not just dumb but cynical.

    Real, I hope you’re not one of the indentured voters Mr. Lopez invites to picnics in an effort to impress you with his kindness.

  • 22-Year Heights Resident

    This is a shameful oversimplification of the issue. There’s a reason for statutes of limitation and there’s a reason why Norman Siegel (former Director of the NYACLU), Gerry Lefcourt (NYS association of criminal defense lawyers), the Bronx Defenders, the Brooklyn Defenders and Legal Aid all support Lopez’s version of the bill. A one-year window of this kind would be unprecedented in NY state.

  • The Where

    22, um that’s why Delaware had a two year window?
    http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20090710/NEWS01/907100336

    Norman Siegel is a thug. Sexual abuse is no joke.

  • Sloper

    This posting was very unfair and completely distorts the truth. What gives?

    Markey’s Bill lost support mostly because the State Senate wouldn’t have passed it, and so many in the Assembly didn’t want to have a grueling fight over a bill that would not have become law. That’s just smart politics. It, or a version of it, may well pass next year. However, as the other commentors state, the Lopez bill also extended the statute of limitations, but not in a way that would have created the one year elimination of the statute of limitations. As was also stated, the Markey bill does have its supporters, but so does the Lopez bill, among them basically every good government group dealing with criminal justice issues.

    I have to say, I’m disappointed in the brooklynheightsblog for posting such a piece of misinformation. Too bad.

  • Saul

    I think we see all sides here via the videos. Bravo BHB for allowing us to make up our own minds!

  • ABC

    I dont’ think this blog understands this issue.

  • The Where

    ABC, it’s as easy as 1,2,3. This is the story of a machine, a boss and the forgotten victims. Wake up.

  • HM Wogglebug

    Why do so many people support Levin? Because of his prominent relative, right? Yeah, that must be it.

  • HM Wogglebug

    I like the green one, myself. I don’t understand the love for bland scions like Levin.

  • Jazz

    Sloper, you’re a Levin troll and a carpetbagger on this blog much like he’s a carpetbagger in Brooklyn.

  • http://realreformbrooklyn.wordpress.com Real Reform Brooklyn

    The real issue for us is where Steve Levin stands on the debate. He is Vito’s Chief of Staff who has no bones about saying that he his comfortable with being identified “Vito’s Guy” in the race.

    There are certainly nuances in the debate that may get lost in the exchange. But the question is fair game: Does Steve Levin support a one-year suspension of the statute of limitations applicable to criminal and civil actions to favor victims of sexual abuse by pedophile priests and rabbis?

    And, why his is at it, Levin should explain why he moved into the 33rd District a little over a month before his name was thrown in the ring (by Vito) as a candidate for the City Council. Any, why he supports he supports a $45,000,000 sweetheart backroom deal to Vito over the Broadway Triangle that completely cut out the community.

    Real Reform Brooklyn

  • Real BK Progressive

    Few further points:

    1) Obviously I meant Norman Siegal, I have been reading too much Minnesota senate stories this summer.

    2) This isn’t about hurting victims, this is about basic rights and infringing upon civil liberties because it would be popular to do so.

    3) The Lopez bill extends the limitations period as perhaps it should be but does not retroactively change the limitations period to open causes of action where none was available previously. This is basic civil liberties, 4th grade social studies stuff. It is embarrassing that the opposition to this just turns back and says “sexual abuse is no joke.” Of course it is not a joke, we should not lose our principles when it is convenient to do so.

    Obviously WHERE is only concerned about attacking Mr. Lopez and not protecting the freedoms that you take for granted. I would think over the last 8 years we should think twice before allowing the government to infringe on our rights. I’m glad Mr. Lopez is willing to stand up and take this unpopular position when those that claim they are “progressive” will not.

    On a side note, this undercurrent that anyone who supports Lopez (particularly in under privileged areas) has been duped or fooled smells like racism or classism to me. The idea that people in these neighborhoods are not intelligent enough to make up their own minds politically and have been duped is offensive. I commend Lopez for his dedication to low cost housing, I don’t think it is anything to turn your nose up to.

  • The Where

    Progrock – you don’t know me. Think before you say such silly things.

  • T.K. Small

    Levin might very well be a hack and undeserving of taking public office, but this piece is not well presented and strikes me as an unfortunate simplification. For the most part, it was never really made clear whether this proposal related to “civil” or “criminal” sanctions. Child abuse is already illegal and the perpetrators are already subject to lawsuits. Also, the assertion that Lopez’s opposition to the legislation put Assemblywoman Markey in the hospital is ridiculous. Being a legislator is tough work. If Markey needs to go to a hospital because someone disagreed with her, it does not say much for her effectiveness.