Sex Abuse Victims Lobby in Albany for Limitations Bill

By James T. Madore (Newsday.com)
June 2, 2009

ALBANY - Beth McCabe is a smiling 12-year-old with wavy dark hair in the photograph on display in the Legislative Office Building.

The former Lindenhurst resident is one of 18 adults who contributed childhood snaps to an exhibit aimed at winning support for temporarily lifting the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases. Eight of the photos are of people who grew up on Long Island.

McCabe, now 60, said a visiting Catholic priest abused her between 1960 and 1963. "I'm here as proof that these things happen," she said. "And I support this bill because it provides a window where victims can come forward to expose predators who continue to abuse."

She and other participants in the photo exhibit spent much of Tuesday lobbying on behalf of the bill from Assemb. Margaret M. Markey (D-Maspeth).

The measure seeks to give abuse victims a one-year window to file suit in civil court regardless of how long ago the assault occurred. It also adds several years onto the current statute of limitations, which is five years after an accuser turns 18.

The bill previously was passed by the Assembly, only to die in the then-Republican-controlled State Senate.

A rival bill from Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) also extends the statute of limitations but doesn't provide for the one-year window on old cases.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre and others oppose the Markey bill, saying it unfairly targets the Catholic Church by exempting public schools and other local governments. Church officials have raised the specter of bankruptcy if the bill becomes law. They back the Lopez measure.

Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.