Readers Write: Phillips saddles taxpayers with dishonest defense on Child Victim’s Act

The Island Now

Over the past several months, Sen. Elaine Phillips has been taking heavy fire for her opposition to the Child Victims Act.

 That bill, passed by the Democrat-led Assembly multiple times, would give those sexually abused or assaulted as minors substantially more time to file a criminal complaint or take civil action.

 It would also create a one-year look-back period, wherein victims whose cases were previously barred by statute could sue their victimizers, a provision that several large, traditionally conservative institutions (as well as their insurers) have lobbied against.

 In response to the onslaught of criticism against her, Phillips blanketed the 7th District with an oversized, double-sided mailer, which began arriving in constituent mailboxes on or around July 19.

In the mailer (which was sent at taxpayer expense), Phillips tries to gaslight her constituents into believing that she is an outspoken victims’ advocate.

 The crux of her argument is that the bill she ended up co-sponsoring at the very end of the legislative session (S8736A), which never came to a floor vote and excludes any look-back period, is superior to the Child Victims Act. 

Here’s why Phillips’ argument is bunk.

Firstly, Phillips mentions that S8736A establishes a $300 million victim-compensation fund.  She brags that this fund wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime and would be available to all victims, not just those wronged by the “deep-pocketed institutions you read about in the news.”

This is profoundly dishonest of Phillips because the $300 million is not just found money that would appear out of thin air. 

It would consist of forfeited assets and settlements collected by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, funds that are currently allocated to law enforcement.

This means that law-enforcement agencies that are tasked with pursuing and prosecuting criminals, including child predators, would have fewer resources to work with. 

The source of this lost funding is irrelevant.

The $300 million fund, in combination with no look-back period, would also shield those “deep-pocketed institutions” and their insurers from financial liability, eliminating a powerful incentive for said institutions to weed out sex offenders in their ranks.

 While it is true that individual sex offenders will not always have the financial means to pay restitution to their victims, letting the large institutions off the hook and weakening law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute crime is not the solution to this problem.

Phillips claims that she is “put[ting] politics aside” and advocating for victims. 

In actuality, she has spent almost her entire first term ignoring victims who have begged her and her fellow Republican senators for help.

Now that Phillips’ seat hangs in the balance, she thinks sending out a mailer, in which she has the gall to paint herself as some kind of hero, will convince district residents to give her another chance.

 Well, I’m sorry Sen. Phillips, but your time to do the right thing has run out.

 I strongly encourage every eligible voter reading this letter to vote for Phillips’ Democratic opponent, Anna Kaplan, on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

 Kaplan was recently endorsed by the Fighting for Children PAC, and there is no question she will support and vote in favor of the Child Victims Act.

 If Phillips retains her seat and the Republicans maintain a Senate majority, make no mistake; the Child Victims Act will sit on the shelf for another two years.

Matthew Zeidman

New Hyde Park

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