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The Child Victim’s Act, which would eliminate the statute of limitations for prosecuting sex offenders has been proposed for the second year in a row by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, D-Maspeth.
Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, above, has been pushing legislation to change the statute of limitations for prosecuting child sex offenders. Her bill (A.1771/S.03809) also sponsored by Sen. Eric Adams, would completely eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. Photo by Gazette file.
The bill (A.1771/ S.03809) would allow an individual to seek legal action against an alleged child sex offender at any time if the sexual abuse was suffered by a child under the age of 18. The current law requires that instances of child molestation and abuse be reported and prosecuted within five years of the offense taking place, or before the child turns 23-years-old.
“Too many people are able to evade justice by waiting for the statute of limitations to run out,” said Mike Armstrong, director of communications for Markey, who spoke on her behalf. “This makes it impossible to bring them to court.”
The Child Victim’s Act would end the statute of limitations for all sexual abuse crimes against children and also allows` a one-year window for adults who were sexually abused as children to file lawsuits against their abuser, who could not seek justice before due to the statute of limitations.
There will be a rally in Albany at the Legislative Office Building Wednesday, April 17, at noon to push for passage of the bill.
According to the New York State Child Advocacy Resources and Consultant Center, one in five adult women and one in 10 adult men have reported sexual abuse in their childhood.
Markey, in her bill’s justification, cites the Syracuse University, Penn State University, and the Horace Mann school scandals as demonstrating, “now more than ever we need to change how we view the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse.”
She said victims of childhood sexual abuse do not come to terms with their abuse until well into adulthood, and under current law they have no recourse. By eliminating the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases victims can bring their claims regardless of whether or not DNA evidence is available.
“The research shows that not only many, but most, victims don’t come to grips with it until they are in their late 30s or 40s,” Armstrong said, and by that time, it’s too late to pursue charges against the perpetrator. Armstrong said Markey believes existing law allows many pedophiles to avoid consequences of their actions.
A controversial part of the bill allows any victim to seek justice against their accuser, regardless of how long ago the crime was committed, for a period of one year after the bill is passed.
According to Prevent Child Abuse New York, an organization dedicated to the development and improvement of services to prevent child abuse and neglect, studies consistently show that between 10 and 20 percent of children are victims of sexual abuse in the state. On a national level, almost 90 percent of child abuse instances are unreported.