2008-06-25 / Features

Markey's Bill Extends Time For Child Sex Assault Victims To File Suit

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Enactment of Markey's legislation would mean that a child victim would have until the age of 28 to seek prosecution.  Enactment of Markey's legislation would mean that a child victim would have until the age of 28 to seek prosecution. The state Assembly has passed a bill introduced by Assemblymember Margaret Markey which grants victims of child sexual assault a longer period of time to press charges by extending the statute of limitations for criminal and civil actions for these offenses.

Explaining the purpose of the legislation, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stated: "Child sexual assault is a horrific, painful crime that leaves a lifetime of scars. The goal of this legislation is to ensure that victims who have been forever traumatized must have every available opportunity to seek justice."

Markey said that the cornerstone of the legislation is a provision that would give persons for whom the right to bring a civil action has been foreclosed under the current civil statute of limitations a one-year window from the date of enactment of her bill, regardless of the victim's age, in which to seek damages for any past instance of child sexual abuse.

Markey (D- Maspeth) explained that under current law, the criminal statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases in which a victim does not report the crime to law enforcement or the statewide central register of child abuse is not applied until the victim reaches age 18.

Under the provisions of her legislation, Bill #4560-B, five years would be added to the statute, of limitations which is the period of time allowed to file charges for a given crime. By adding five years to the statute of limitations in child sexual assault cases, Markey emphasized, these cases would not begin to run until the victim turned age 23.

Enactment of her legislation, she said, would mean that a child victim would have until the age of 28 to seek prosecution.

Markey's bill covers both criminal and civil cases.

Pointing to the inability of many child victims to come forward before the current statute of limitations expires, Markey and Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, chairman of the Codes Committee, said her bill was a "critical means of giving victims a voice, particularly those who are assaulted by people with authority over them".

Markey noted, "When it comes to sexual assault, no person is above the law. As children, many of these victims are fearful of coming forward. This bill will provide a remedy for those whose lives have been shattered by the tragedy of childhood sexual abuse. Victims of these horrific crimes will get their day in court and be able to seek the justice they have been denied for too long."

She added, "The pain and suffering caused by child sexual assault is an issue which has left many victims struggling to recover. We must make their lives whole again. Victims must have the pain and suffering inflicted upon them acknowledged and the perpetrators must be held accountable for their acts. Only when these basic rights are accepted and addressed can victims find closure and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. We owe them the opportunity to have their voice heard."

Markey's bill now goes to the state senate for consideration.

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