Markey sex abuse bill deserves a vote
Mar 06, 2012 | 3006 views | 1 1 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Since 2006, Assemblywoman Marge Markey has been pushing legislation that would extend the time that victims of childhood sexual abuse can come forward and sue their abusers.

Markey's bill would extend the limit to the victim's 28th birthday, five years longer than is currently allowed. Given the recent sex scandals at Penn State and Syracuse universities, where it took the abused well into their adulthood to come to terms with the torment they suffered, extending the deadline seems like a no-brainer.

One need look no further than our own backyard to see common sense evidence of this. Former Christ the King basketball coach Bob Oliva last year pled guilty to sexually abusing a boy connected to Oliva's well-respected basketball program.

Under New York State law, Oliva did not need to worry about facing criminal charges - the alleged abuse happened too long ago. However, one incident took place when Oliva took his victim on a trip to Massachusetts, which doesn't have the same restrictive statute of limitations, so the case was tried in that state, and the accuser prevailed.

Markey has been pushing this legislation since 2006, but has been met with resistance from the State Senate. To be fair, earlier versions of the legislation did have issues.

First, it singled out private institutions only, ignoring abuse that occurred in public institutions, which gave the impression that the legislation was aimed at the Catholic Church. That was a fair criticism, and public institutions shouldn't be let off the hook - where the abuse takes place doesn't make it any more or less sinister.

The latest version of Markey's legislation, which she unveiled last week, fixes that discrepancy, and doesn't make that distinction, which should make it more palatable.

Another sticking point with the legislation is a one-year amnesty that would allow any person who feels they were sexually abused a one-year window to sue their abuser, regardless of when the abuse occurred. No one is arguing that allowing those who were victims of sexual abuse the opportunity to seek justice seems is the right thing to do.

However, could a one-year amnesty allow people with long-standing grudges to maliciously sue people, claiming they were abused as a child? Perhaps.

This isn't to say that every victim should be suspected lying, and in fact, that group would make up a small, small percentage of those that come forward. However, just because someone is accused of sex abuse doesn't mean they actually did it, but once that accusation is made public, most will accept it as fact and even if the accused is found innocent, there will always be an air of suspicion and those that accept that he or she is guilty.

There is surely a way to work around this, though, and we trust that lawmakers can make the system work for those who have truly been abused to find justice without creating a flurry of lawsuits for 365 days.

Regardless of how you feel about the details of Markey's bill, this issue has become so pervasive in our society that it at least deserves the chance to be discussed, debated, and voted on, not be held in limbo because of a political stalemate.

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Judy Jones
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March 07, 2012
Victims and the accused deserve to have their day in court. Let the jury decide if these are false accusations or true. False allegations are extremely rare, it is very hard for victims to even speak of their abuse.

And it is extremely rare that a child predator has only one victim, many have over a hundred in a life time.

Removing the statutes is the only way to get this abuse stopped and to protect our kids today.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511

"Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" and all clergy.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.

SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)