New York State Fails Abuse Victims — Again

AlbanyThe 2016 New York state legislative session ended with the state Legislature failing, yet again, to reform the state’s ridiculously short statute of limitations for sex abuse claims. This was a victory to child predators and groups like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts who continue to escape liability for ruining the lives of countless abuse victims.

The Child Victims’ Act, which would have extended the statute of limitations against predators and the institutions that protected them, died without a vote. New York law will remain the same, giving victims of child sex abuse only until their 23rd birthday to file a lawsuit or seek a criminal case against the abuser. Victims have just three years after they turn 18 – until their 21st birthday – to sue an institution that failed to protect them. These are some of the shortest deadlines in the country. They do not reflect that many of those who suffered assaults as children spend years trying to understand their abuse and its effects before they are at a point where they can come forward to make a claim.

Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat who sponsored two different versions of the Child Victims Act, called it “breathtaking” that no action was taken. “How can you look the survivors in the eye?” he asked his fellow Senators. Hoylman questioned the Legislature’s priorities, noting that the Senate managed, in the final minutes of the session, to pass a bill legalizing online fantasy sports betting.

The Child Victims’ Act wasn’t just ignored, it was attacked. The bill faced fierce opposition from the Catholic Conference and other well-organized and well-funded groups. The Conference spent more than $2 million to defeat the Act. Political influence is still bought and paid for in Albany.

Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor who was sexually abused as a child in 1966, said survivors won’t forget when every seat in the Legislature is up for election. He said that Governor Cuomo, the Assembly, and the Senate “turned their backs on thousands and thousands of child sex abuse victims and their families across New York State.”

This is a bad day for the citizens of New York, but the November elections are right around the corner. If you live in New York, please vote this fall for supporters of the Child Victims’ Act and send a message to the Governor, the Legislature, and the Catholic Conference that justice and integrity will prevail.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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