CHILD ABUSE VICTIMS
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS — REFORM
We have previously reported regarding efforts in the New York State Legislature to open up a one year “window of opportunity” to victims of childhood sexual abuse. It would have extended the Statute of Limitations on bringing “civil” lawsuits so that virtually anyone, at any age, that suffered sexual abuse, could sue, regardless of the number of years that have passed since the abuse occurred.
Unfortunately, we can now report that for the FIFTH year, the legislation intended to expand the rights of child sex abuse victims has died in the New York Legislature.
The hope on the part of proponents of the legislation was that with the increased outrage over new developments regarding clergy sexual abuse coming to light in the Catholic Church in Europe, that public opinion here would lead to passage. That assessment was wrong.
Since 2002, fifteen states have proposed such legislation. Only Delaware and California have actually passed it. In New York, the legislation “died” in the State Senate committee that deals with that area of law. The legislation is known as the “CHILD VICTIMS ACT.” Sponsors will continue to attempt to get it passed in the future.
Some opponents did indicate that while they opposed eliminating the Statute of Limitations on civil child abuse cases, which could bankrupt some organizations, they would favor lifting the Statute of Limitations on criminal cases so that abusers could be prosecuted.