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Advocates for Statute of Limitations Reform Gather in Albany

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Advocates for Statute of Limitations Reform Gather in Albany

By Assemblywoman Margaret Markey

On the second Lobby Day for their Child Victim Act (CVA) bill, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey and State Senator Brad Hoylman linked their campaign for the reform legislation to the Academy Award-winning movie “Spotlight.” Along with dozens of advocates for the bill from across New York State, three key figures involved with the film about the Boston priest scandal spoke at two of the day’s programs. They include award-winning screenwriter Josh Singer, actor Neal Huff, and Phil Saviano, played by Huff in the movie, who is the real-life survivor whose perseverance convinced the Boston Globe to launch the investigation that is so convincingly depicted in the film.

 

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey said, “The message in ‘Spotlight’ is that when powerful institutions hide perpetrators and deny responsibility for their crimes all of society suffers. The lesson for New York is that our current laws protect predators and victimizes abused children for a second time. It denies survivors justice for the crimes done against them. Ignoring or covering up abuse means that more and more children become victims. We need to eliminate all statutes of limitations for child sex abuse crimes.”

 

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “In his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, the producer of Spotlight expressed hope that his film would ‘give a voice to survivors’ of child abuse and ‘amplify that voice into a choir.’ With a screening of Spotlight for my Albany colleagues, we hope to do just this. It’s time for lawmakers in both houses to pass the CVA and provide justice to survivors and get perpetrators of these heinous crimes off the street and out of contact with kids.”

 

“Spotlight” screenwriter Josh Singer, who won an Academy Award for his work, said: “The issue of child abuse raised in Spotlight is one that still needs to be addressed today. Statute of Limitations reform is one of the best ways we can help right the wrongs of the past and protect kids in the future. I hope legislators in New York, Pennsylvania and across the country will heed the call to do more for our children.”

 

The Child Victims Act sponsored by Assemblywoman Markey and Senator Hoylman has been adopted in the Assembly four times in various forms since 2006, but has never made it to the floor of the State Senate. “New York is among the very worst states in America for how it treats victims of childhood sexual abuse,” said Assemblywoman Markey.

 

“We rank right at the very bottom among the 50 states along with Alabama and Mississippi. This is the year to change that deplorable situation.” State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “It’s time for lawmakers in both houses to pass the CVA and provide justice to survivors and get perpetrators of these heinous crimes off the street and out of contact with kids.”

 

The current statute of limitations requires an abuse victim to bring criminal or civil charges by the time they turn age 23. But abuse victims are often very slow to come to grips with what happened to them, some not until middle age or even later in life. The Child Victims Act (A2872/S63A) would completely eliminate the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes in the future. It also includes a period during which the statute of limitations is suspended for one year so older victims can get justice during a one-year “window”. A companion bill (A8567/S6436) will eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse in the future.

 

The 2:00 p.m. Roundtable, moderated by Professor Marci Hamilton, the intellectual leader of the movement to reform the statutes of limitations for child sex abuse victims here and abroad. She is the author of “Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children” and she tracks SOL developments around the globe. Hamilton is the Academic Director of CHILD USA at the University of Pennsylvania and holds the Paul Verkuil Research Chair at Cardozo Law School.

 

In addition to Singer, Huff and Saviano, other Roundtable participants included: Anne Barrett Doyle, BishopAccountability.org; Art McGrath, Call to Action Metro NY’ Francis Pidiret, Voice of the Faithful NY; David Clohessy, SNAP; and Mary DeSantis, mother of survivor Michael DeSantis.

 

Professor Hamilton said, “Compared to every other state, New York has been one of the best for predators and worst for survivors and the children those hidden predators are still abusing. The irrefutable logic of SOL Reform is identifying hidden predators in states across the country while New York legislators twiddle their thumbs.”

 

David G. Clohessy, Director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), said: “If one in four cars in New York were stolen or one in eight homes were burglarized, lawmakers would be falling over each other pushing solutions. But one in four girls and one in eight boys is being sexually assaulted, and most shrug their shoulders or tinker around the edges of this crisis with piecemeal, largely ineffective measures. It’s time for New York to move from the bottom of the barrel in stopping child rape to the top of the heap.”

 

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