NY Lawmakers and Victims Lobby for Change in Child Sex-Abuse Laws

Advocates in the fight for reform asked average New Yorkers to urge lawmakers to support a bill that would extend the statute of limitations on civil claims that involve child sex-abuse victims, the Daily News reports.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey said, “Governor Cuomo and leaders in the Assembly and state Senate need to hear from you right now. Tell them they should support the Child Victims Act.” Markey added that letters, e-mails and phone calls would “reinforce the good work” of dozens of supporters who lobbied lawmakers about the bill last week, according to the Daily News.

The reform of the law was not on the lawmaker’s agenda which included discussion of the state’s heroin crisis, housing, budgetary issues and mayoral control of city schools. However, supporters of the reform to the statute of limitations said “the time to act is now.”

“The status quo of New York law for childhood sex abuse, both in terms of how it is written and how courts interpret it, is nothing short of a disgrace,” said an attorney who has represented clients who say they were abused when they were students. “It’s up to the public to let their legislators know they demand necessary reform on this issue.”

Richard Azzopardi, Cuomo spokesman, has said the governor “believes that those who are guilty of sexual abuse should be held accountable and due process must be maintained.” Cuomo’s office has not publicly said if the governor would sign the bill, the Daily News reports.

At the present time, victims of childhood sexual abuse cannot bring criminal or civil charges against their abuses after the age of 23. This age limit is among the smallest windows in the country for victims to come forward.

Markey’s bill would make it easier for victims to sue in the future, and would also grant a one-year window for those whose statute of limitations had run out to bring a civil lawsuit.

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