ALBANY, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The leading prelate in New York is speaking out against a provision in the Child Victims Act that would provide sex abuse victims greater access to the courts.
New York's Cdl. Timothy Dolan met separately with both N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) on Tuesday over the proposed bill that would extend the statute of limitations for child-sex-abuse victims from age 23–50. The bill would also include a one-year "look back" for any victim to bring forward old civil claims.
The law currently allows victims until the age of 23 to bring a criminal complaint against a predator and until the age of 21 to file a civil claim against an individual or an institution. Municipalities, including New York City, require that legal claims be filed within 90 days of the crime.
We share the governor's outrage at the crime of child sexual abuse, and we know that he also understands that wherever a child is victimized, they should have the same access to the court system. However, we respectfully differ with him regarding an unlimited retroactive window to bring up claims from decades ago against institutions of all kinds.
However, victims, child-victim organizations and lawmakers are pushing for the inclusion of the one-year look back in the final bill which is part of the state budget package due on March 31. Last year, the State Assembly passed an extension to the statute of limitations, but the bill failed to pass the Republican-majority Senate.
In a statement, Cuomo told the New York Daily News, "These victims have been denied their day in court for far too long, and we stand with them. The arguments against a look back do not stand up against the experience of every other state, and this debate only wastes time and delays justice."
Since 2016, New York has paid out $40 million dollars to about 200 victims of priest sex abuse as part of its creation of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) to settle claims of clerical sex abuse. Other dioceses have also followed New York's lead, including Buffalo, Syracuse, Brooklyn and Rockville Center.