The state Assembly adjourned its 2008-09 session June 23 without voting on a bill that would temporarily suspend the state’s current civil statute of limitations on filing child sex-abuse lawsuits against public and private institutions.
The Child Victims Act of New York (A2596a) would, for a period of one year, give alleged victims until their 53rd birthdays (35 years after turning 18) to file previously time-barred civil claims. The bill also would allow child sexual-abuse victims to file future civil suits until they are 28. Under current state law, they can file such suits until they are 23.
The proposal, sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens), recently was amended to allow time-barred suits to be filed against public institutions as well as private ones. This change prompted such groups as the New York Conference of Mayors and the New York State School Boards Association to join the New York State Catholic Conference in opposing the bill.
The Catholic conference has noted that it would be very difficult for institutions named in the suits to defend themselves in cases where witnesses and perpetrators have died or are incapacitated. The conference instead supports bill A5708a sponsored by Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn), which does not include a one-year suspension of the civil statute of limitations. The bill also would allow child sexual-abuse victims to file civil suits until they are 25 and would cover both public and private institutions.
"That bill, which we continue to support, is forward looking, equally applied to all institutions and an excellent tool to protect our children and grandchildren," said a June 23 statement from Richard E. Barnes, the Catholic conference’s executive director.