Lawmakers push for statute of limitations elimination for sex abuse victims

By Kenneth Lovett (NY Daily News)
March 30, 2016

ALBANY — A top state Senate leader said efforts to make it easier for sexually abused children to bring lawsuits as adults actually don’t go far enough.

Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein said the law requiring victims of sex abuse to seek legal recourse before their 23rd birthday should be eliminated not just for civil cases, but for criminal cases as well.

Several state lawmakers are pushing a bill that would either eliminate or extend the statute of limitation for just civil cases involving abuse victims.

“Any change to the existing statute which creates true justice for the victims will enable justice to be served by prosecuting criminally as well as enabling people to bring a civil action,” Klein, of the Bronx, said Wednesday.

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester County agrees and said she’d “like to see us do something quickly.”

“I would be happy to see people prosecuted for raping a child, certainly,” she said. “Clearly, with heinous crimes such as that, having a statute of limitations that allows people who have victimized children to get away I think is really horrendous.”

Klein also believes that any law should cover private and public institutions and include a provision that allows a one-year window for victims whose statute of limitations already expired to bring a lawsuit.

Current law makes it virtually impossible for a former abused child to seek justice against public institutions like schools because victims must file a notice of intent to sue within 90 days of the incident.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) and Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) are pushing a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations pertaining to just child sexual abuse civil cases.

Gov. Cuomo indicated a willingness to consider some type of change to the law.

“We will review the most recent version of this legislation and believe that those who are guilty of sexual abuse should be held accountable and due process must be maintained,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.

Markey urged advocates to target the Senate, where the GOP has opposed the changes.