ABUSE VICTIMS: STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM
In a recent New York Times article, Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Harvard, noted the continuing role of the Catholic Church in opposing any change in New York State’s Statute of Limitations with respect to the ability of Sexual Abuse victims seeking redress for the harm they suffered.
Professor Lessig pointed out that New York has one of the most restrictive Statute of Limitations when it comes to child sexual abuse. New York law requires a person to bring a lawsuit involving sexual abuse within five years of reaching their 18th birthday, or forever be barred from bringing such a lawsuit.
Three times the New York State Assembly has passed legislation altering that law.
Assemblywoman Margaret Markey has attempted to extend the Statute to allow a lawsuit TEN years following the 18th birthday and, additionally, to allow a ONE YEAR WINDOW, during which anyone, of any age, could bring a lawsuit for sexual abuse. The New York State Senate has repeatedly refused to follow the Assembly’s example in passing such legislation.
According to Professor Lessig, “At the core of the opposition to this bill is heavy lobbying by the New York Catholic Conference (which)…has hired top dollar lobbyists to kill the bill.” The object of the Catholic Conference is an attempt to protect the Church from the loss of significant wealth resulting from the inevitable avalanche of lawsuits. Of course, this will also result in hundreds, if not thousands, of victims being barred from receiving compensation for the harm they suffered.