Our View: Stand up for Victims of Child Abuse

Auburn Citizen
June 20, 2012

The state Senate has again failed the people of New York by refusing to follow the Assembly in approving legislation extending the statute of limitations on civil suits in cases of child sexual abuse.

Changing the rules would add five years to the allowable time people could sue individuals -- and entities such as schools and churches -- for abuse they suffered as a minor. It would also open a one-time window for people to sue over wrongs committed decades ago.

Statues of limitations, in most cases, make good sense. Nobody should live in fear of being sued over a 30-year-old car accident or a disputed real estate deal.

But we've learned that young victims of sexual abuse are often scared, confused or otherwise unprepared to talk about what happened to them for many years, if they come forward at all. And the psychological trauma has shown to be long-term, so it just isn't fair to have such a short period of time in which to hold abusers accountable.

The reluctance of the Senate to take up the cause -- and Gov. andrew Cuomo's failure to push for it -- is because of the opposition involved -- lobbying from insurance companies, Orthodox Jewish officials and the Catholic Church, fearful of the potential repercussions of lawsuits from sex-abuse victims of decades past.

But the Senate -- and Cuomo -- should think more about the victims of sexual abuse rather than the people and entities those victims might sue. With such high-profile cases of sex abuse coming to light lately, this should have been the year that New york finally stepped up to help right this wrong.


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