Religious Groups Try to Block NY Abuse Bill


jd-thumbThe Child Victims Act is getting another shot in the New York legislature, and yesterday Assemblywoman Markey (D-Queens) introduced the bill to a Democratic house for the first time. Governor Patterson is also behind this bill, giving it a good shot at passing. Justice Denied author Marci Hamilton was there to testify.

From the New York Times:

“Under the Albany measure, which Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey, a Queens Democrat, has shepherded to Assembly approval in each of the last three sessions, people claiming they were sexually abused as children would be given a one-year exemption from the statute of limitations. Regardless of how long ago the alleged abuse occurred, they could file suit in civil court.

At the year’s end, time limits on such claims would be restored, but with a wider window: Instead of a five-year period after turning 18, victims would have 10 years to file claims.

The bill would not lift the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions of child abuse, which in most cases are the same as for civil complaints. For violent assaults like rape, there are no time limits on prosecution.”

This is very exciting stuff, but as one would expect, many religious groups that have suffered lawsuits for abuse in the past are fiercely opposed to the window. Of course, when asked to comment by the Times, the Archbishop’s office claimed it “hadn’t had enough time to study the bill”, and calls to Williamsburg Jewish organizations were not returned.

The Catholic church has claimed in the past that such laws are trying to bankrupt the church. Isn’t it for the courts to decide whether they’ll be paying out in lawsuits? If they’re afraid of paying out, it’s probably for a reason.

Marci’s quote was especially pertinent:

“[Hamilton argues that that] the principle is comparable to the way industrial pollution is treated under the law. ‘The consequences of toxic pollution may not be known or felt for years after the fact,’ she said. ‘The same is often true for children who are sexually abused.'”

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