NY Clergy Abuse | NY Child Victims Act
New York Child Victims Act
Victims of childhood sex abuse need time. Time to remember, time to link it to possible damaging adult behavior and time to gather the determination to come forward. Some states have recognized this and have extended the statute of limitations on sex abuse claims. Other states have initiated bills that have yet to pass. New York is one of these states where some of its legislators have recognized that sex abuse victims need the extra time and is trying to pass legislation that would extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims.
In New York, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and other religious denominations who failed to report or covered up clergy childhood abuse have not always been held to account, thanks to a state statute of limitations that requires a victim to commence a lawsuit by the time they are 23 years old. The New York statute of limitations for sexual abuse is so short that it ensures that most predators are not held accountable for their actions. As a result, abusive clergy members in New York, and those who have helped hide their acts have been able to “run out the clock” and escape any responsibility for their despicable behavior. At the same time, this unreasonably short statute of limitations has prevented many New York childhood clergy abuse victims from having their stories told and from being compensated.
The New York Child Victims Act has come up in the state legislature several times now since 2006, but has yet to pass. Heavy lobbying by Catholic Church officials, ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders and other religious authorities has helped to block its passage. Despite this formidable opposition, the New York clergy childhood abuse lawyers at Alonso Krangle LLP are working hard on behalf of victims to get the New York Child Victims Act signed into law. Our New York clergy childhood abuse lawyers believe the Act offers the only chance at justice for those who were denied their day in court because of the current short statute of limitations.
The proposed New York Child Victims Act would give victims of sexual abuse more time to press charges, as well as extend the timeframe for civil lawsuits. Five years would be added to the state’s statute of limitations, giving New York clergy abuse victims until their 28th birthday to bring a civil lawsuit. The Act would also create a one-year, one time suspension of the current statute of limitations. During this period, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse of any age would be able to sue their abuser as well as anyone who protected or covered up for the predator—even if the statute of limitations has already expired.
Expecting most victims of clergy childhood abuse to file a claim by the time they are 23 is not realistic, considering that the trauma inflicted on these individuals is so great. In a large number of cases, victims of childhood abuse cannot even begin to deal with what happened to them until they are well into adulthood. Many abusers, especially clergy members, hold positions of power and trust. Their religious institutions often go to great lengths to protect these monsters. As a result, clergy who abuse children can successfully silence their victims through intimidation, making it even more difficult for their victims to come forward until years after the abuse has ended.
Passing the New York Child Victims Act will ensure that fewer predators are free to habitually harm children. When California enacted a similar law, more than 300 childhood abusers were exposed. Given that predators have multiple victims, the California law likely saved an untold number of children from abuse at the hands of these same criminals. Meanwhile, the current statute of limitations in New York has likely helped to conceal hundreds of child abusers who have continued to prey on victims.
The opposition to the New York Child Victims Act is being spearheaded by powerful religious leaders whose institutions could be liable for millions of dollars if the victims of New York clergy childhood abuse are ever able to hold pedophile priests, ministers and rabbis – as wells their enablers – accountable for their crimes. Catholic Bishops, for example, have been quite vocal in expressing fears that passage of the Act could “bankrupt” the Church. So far, they’ve been successful, and because of their efforts, thousands of victims of New York clergy abuse have been denied their day in court.
The New York clergy abuse lawyers at Alonso Krangle LLP believe the New York Child Victims Act is an urgently-needed law. No matter how long it takes, our firm will work with childhood abuse victims to ensure that it is passed in the future. To learn more about the New York Child Victims Act, or to discuss a case with one of our New York clergy abuse attorneys, please contact us today by calling 800-403-6191.