Victim Pushes To Change New York Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Law

Filmmaker and victim, Chris Gavagan, is pushing to change New York child sexual abuse reporting laws.

According to Gavagan, lawmakers in New York who may fail to approve a bill meant to extend the statute of limitations for molestation cases in the state, are, in essence, giving sexual predators a free pass to continue their reign of terror on children, said The New York Daily News.

Gavagan, a Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY-based filmmaker, is working on a documentary concerning sexual abuse in sports and his abuse, which he said came at the hands of his former roller hockey coach, wrote The Daily News. Should the Child Victims Act not pass, the ensuing result will be like signing a “pardon for 1,000 child rapists,” said Gavagan. “I was here last year, and the fact that we are here again is a sign of catastrophic failure,” he added, wrote The Daily News.

“Lawmakers, shame on you,” said Gavagan, who was speaking with other sexual abuse survivors at a news conference organized by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (Democrat-Queens), said The Daily News, which noted that this event is the first of three the Assemblywoman is hosting to promote her Child Victims Act. The bill passed the Assembly four times but has not yet cleared the State Senate.

Constructed to extend the current limitation statute by five years—until survivors are 28 years of age—in both criminal and civil case, the bill would also suspend the civil limitation statute for one-year, which would enable survivors time to file lawsuits against abusers, no matter how far back the abuse occurred, explained The Daily News. Meanwhile, State Senator Andrew Lanza (Republican-Staten Island) introduced similar legislation in the State Senate. As we’ve previously written, the cut-off currently is age 23 and adults have five years following an alleged attack to file charges.

Assemblywoman Markey pointed out that one in every five U.S. children are sexually abused, a problem she described as “America’s dirty little secret.” And, while Penn State’s and Syracuse’s sex-abuse scandals have made headlines, they’ve done little to reform outdated laws, said the Assemblywoman, according to The Daily News.

“Those cases have attracted enormous attention, but there is not much new about the pattern behind the headlines,” Markey said. “Someone in a position of trust and influence over a child has violated that trust to molest or rape them. Respected organizations act like they are more concerned about their reputation than the victims of the crimes, and only many years after abused children become adults are they able to come to terms with what happened to them, and that means it takes place many years after our woefully short statute of limitations expire,” she added, wrote The Daily News.

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