Alleged Victims of Bernie Fine to Urge Lawmakers to Open Litigation Window for Sexual Abuse Cases

By Michael O'Keefe (NY Daily News)
February 8, 2012

Two men who say they were molested by Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim's longtime assistant will appear at a press conference in Albany later this month to urge lawmakers to pass a bill that would open a one-year window for sexual abuse victims to file civil litigation.

Former Orange ball boys Bobby Davis and Michael Lang will appear in Albany on Feb. 28 to support Assemblywoman Margaret Markey's Child Victims Act.

The Feb. 28 event, which kicks off a three-day campaign by Markey to raise support for her bill, will focus on sexual abuse in youth sports. Kevin Mulhearn, the attorney who represents nine men who have filed a lawsuit that claims Poly Prep Country Day school officials covered up sexual abuse by the private school's football coach, Phil Foglietta, has also been invited to the Albany event.

"My clients, Bobby Davis, Mike Lang and I have accepted the invitation of Assemblywoman Markey to join her in Albany on Feb.28 to participate in a news conference in support of her bill to open up a one year "window" to allow victims of child sexual abuse to obtain justice against the perpetrators who have abused them," attorney Gloria Allred said in a statement to the Daily News.

"We are looking forward to explaining why we think that this bill is necessary for adult victims of child sexual abuse for whom justice has been denied, because the statute of limitations now bars them from making a claim."

Markey hopes to use the event to attract sponsors for her bill and persuade Gov. Andrew Cuomo to advocate for the legislation. Victim advocates say lifting the statute of limitations is important because victims of childhood abuse often can't address the emotional damage they've suffered until decades later.

A Feb. 29 press conference will focus on sexual abuse conducted by members of religious organizations and will include victims of former Catholic priest Gary Mercure. Mercure, who served as a priest in Troy, was sentenced last year in Pittsfield, Mass., to two decades behind bars for raping two altar boys during the 1980s. Prosecutors in New York couldn't charge Mercure because of statute of limitations issues.

Markey has invited Albany County District Attorney David Soares and Henry Miller, the past president of the New York State Bar Association, to speak about statute of limitations reform on March 1.

New York's current statute of limitations prevented prosecutors from pursuing sexual abuse cases against Bob Oliva, the former Christ the King High School boys basketball coach, and Ernest Lorch, the founder of the prestigious Riverside Church basketball program. Oliva was charged by Massachusetts authorities and pleaded guilty to sex abuse charges in April 2011 in Boston. Lorch was charged with sex abuse in Massachusetts in October 2010 but a New York judge ruled he was not competent to be extradited to the Bay State.

The bill has faced heavy opposition from the Catholic Church and other religious organizations in the past, but Markey told the Daily News last year that she hopes sex-abuse scandals at Poly Prep, Syracuse and Penn State will help win support for her legislation.