New York State may be on the verge of passing the Child Victims Act becoming the next state to protect child sexual abuse victims by extending the statute of limitations. The Child Victims Act is expected to pass in early 2019.
The Child Victims Act is a new law that will end the cover up of Catholic priest sexual abuse. If passed, victims who were abused by priests as little kids may finally have their day in court, and those responsible may finally be held accountable.
Silence. It has been a weapon that priests who have abused children have relied upon for decades. Victims have remained silent because in the 1960s, 70s and 80s children and their families were taught that they should never question the authority or actions of a Catholic priest. For decades many victims have stayed silent. In recent months, heroic victims have found their voice. The silence is coming to an end. Victims of child sexual abuse are now coming forward, and we are learning the vast extent of not just the abuse, but also the elaborate Catholic church cover up that kept priests safe and children in danger.
For decades, Adults who were sexually abused as children by Catholic priests have been limited in their ability to seek justice. Historically, it usually decades before victims are able to speak about the horrible acts committed by pedophile priests. In the past, by the time they are ready to come forward, the time limit to bring a criminal or civil case against the abuser has passed
Here in Buffalo, many priest sexual victims are beginning to ask difficult questions.
- Can I still sue my abuser?
- When did the Diocese know about the abuser and what did they do about it?
- How can I navigate a changing legal landscape to get justice?
All of these questions are valid and there is no uniform answer. Today, potentially promising changes to New York law have been proposed that would make it easier for survivors of abuse to get justice. These are a series of bills usually referred to as the Child Victims Act.
A statute of limitations is a law that limits the time to bring a case. One version of the Child Victims Act was proposed in the State Senate in January of 2017. It sought to eliminate all statutes of limitations for sexual abuse of children for one year after the bill was passed. In spite of bipartisan support, this bill was held in committee and never brought to a vote. After heavy lobbying by Catholic bishops, the New York Senate buried it.
Another version of the Child Victims Act was proposed in February of 2018 and passed in the New York State Assembly in May of 2018. That bill would have extended the statute of limitations until a survivor reached the age of 50. It passed in the State Assembly but never got out of committee in the State Senate. The bishops won again.
Despite heavy lobbying by Catholic bishops, a new version of the Child Victims Act is expected to be passed in 2019. It now appears very likely that the State of New York is ready to stand with the thousands of New Yorkers who were abused and give them their day in court. It’s a right guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Proving sexual abuse from decades ago can be challenging. But the priest sexual abuse attorneys at our firm have done it. We use witness testimony, counseling records, accounts of other victims and admissions by the church to prove our case.
As a TV news journalist in the 1990s I broke the first stories of priest sexual abuse against children within the Diocese of Buffalo. Back then, my job was to tell the victim’s story. It’s the same today. If you or someone you love was sexually abused by a priest as a child, you can contact us confidentially to discuss your case. The consultation is free. You can begin by filling our contact form or call us 716-400-0000. I would be happy to personally discuss your legal options and move on from there.