Friday, March 02, 2012
Sexual abuse victims voice support for Assemblywoman Margaret Markey's Child Victims Act
In Opposition to this bill: The Agudath Israel of America & the Catholic Church!
Bill would extend statute of limitations by five years, until victims turn 28 years old
By Michael O'keefe / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
ALBANY — New York lawmakers will give sexual predators another one-year pass to abuse children if they fail to approve a bill that would extend the state’s statute of limitations in molestation cases, a Brooklyn abuse survivor said.
Bay Ridge filmmaker Chris Gavagan, who is working on a documentary about sexual abuse in sports and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his roller hockey coach, said on Tuesday that legislators’ failure to pass the Child Victims Act is like signing a “pardon for 1,000 child rapists.”
“I was here last year, and the fact that we are here again is a sign of catastrophic failure,” Gavagan said.
“Lawmakers, shame on you,” he added.
Gavagan and other sexual abuse victims spoke at a news conference organized by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, the first of three events to promote her Child Victims Act, which has passed the Assembly four times but has yet to clear the State Senate.
The bill would extend the statute of limitations by five years, until victims turn 28 years old, in civil and criminal cases. The bill would also suspend the civil statute of limitations for a one-year period to give victims a window to file suit against abusers, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) his introduced similar legislation in the State Senate.
Markey, a Queens Democrat, said that one in five of the nation’s children suffer from sexual abuse, which she called “America’s dirty little secret.” She said the sex-abuse scandals at Penn State and Syracuse have generated fresh attention on the topic but little reform of antiquated laws.
“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.”
The speakers at Tuesday’s event were men who say they were sexually abused by coaches when they were youngsters. Bobby Davis, a former Syracuse ball boy who says he was molested by ex-Orange assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, said the bill will prevent child predators from hiding behind the statute of limitations.
“Because of my personal experience, I feel that the current law does not protect the victim, but instead protects the abuser,” Davis said. “Children need to know we have their back.”
David Hiltbrand, a graduate of Poly Prep who says he was abused by the private Brooklyn school’s former longtime football coach, Phil Foglietta, said the statute of limitations puts an arbitrary deadline on suffering that can last a lifetime......
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