According to critics of New York’s sexual abuse laws, not allowing previous victims of sexual abuse to take their abusers to criminal court is hurting children today.
Children are at risk for sexual abuse in places most adults don’t even consider. According to a recent report in the New York Daily News, most adults still trust their instincts on who to trust their children with, which is a plan that is misguided at best, and dangerous at worst. According to the new report, parents, the clergy, teachers, and other caregivers must become increasingly vigilant to prevent sexual abuse from occurring in what most adults consider to be “safe” places, such as school and church.
New York residents are particularly at risk, as the state has one of worst statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases in the United States, tying with Mississippi, Michigan, and Alabama. Major sex crimes were recently released from a statute of limitations, but for many children sexually abused in the past, the statute of limitation has expired and they will never be able to bring their abuser to justice.
[http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/marci-hamilton-victims-pursue-abusers-article-1.2426370, November 2015]
In these cases, individuals can bring their accused abusers to civil court, but many New York organizations have hidden reports of sexual abuse to protect their reputations. A few New York organizations have been brought to the public eye amid accusations of sexual abuse. In some cases, the abuse occurred as early as the 1960s and is only now being brought to light.
Over a period of several decades, multiple teachers at Horace Mann prep school were involved in the sexual abuse of students. The school settled the case by awarding past victims an unannounced settlement between $4 million and $5 million. [http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/horace-mann-alum-reveals-abuse-new-book-article-1.2410248, November 2015]
A drama teacher at another New York high school was accused of sexual abuse in 2015. According to the case, which is still ongoing, the man abused at least three former students in 2011. [http://www.people.com/article/former-high-school-teacher-charged-for-sex-crimes, November 2015]
A Catholic church accused of hiding cases of sexual abuse to protect church officials recently paid an $8 million settlement to past children sexually abused by clergy staff. The church was deemed “60 percent responsible” for hiding the abuse and not removing the abuser from a position of power where he could abuse additional children. [http://www.startribune.com/jury-finds-diocese-of-duluth-and-catholic-order-responsible-for-child-sex-abuse/340388931/, November 2015]
In the wake of public sexual abuse scandals hitting churches across the country, the Catholic Church made a pledge in early 2015 to take greater strides in reporting and stopping sexual abuse. However, critics state that these efforts are not enough as long as the Catholic church and other organizations continue to hide and protect former abusers. Some officials can abuse children into their elder years, and any leader accused of sexual abuse should be removed from power immediately and no longer allowed to work with children.
According to critics of New York’s sexual abuse laws, not allowing previous victims of sexual abuse to take their abusers to criminal court is hurting children today. If a person who was an abuser several decades ago is allowed to remain in power, there is nothing stopping that person from harming additional children. Only by releasing the names of accused sexual abusers can parents make informed decisions on who should care for their children. But as long as these predetors are allowed to walk free, unannounced, they are still a danger to children today.