NY Child Sexual Abuse Proposal A ‘Collision of Civic Values’


Should there be a statute of limitations on sexual abuse? An effort by New York legislators to bring accountability for sexual abuse to the Catholic clergy has grown to cover people in other occupations, such as teachers. One proposal would allow people to file lawsuits as much as 40 years after alleged abuse. New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer writes, “It is a collision of powerful civic values: the need to provide justice to people who were outrageously injured as children and manipulated into silence, and the duty of courts to decide cases based on reliable evidence.”

The proposed changes were not controversial when they applied only to the clergy. But after much debate, the bill was amended to include governments and their employees. “Suddenly,” Dwyer writes, “lobbyists and advocates for school boards, counties and small towns spoke out.” “Statutes of limitation exist for a reason,” said Bob Lowry, the deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. “How can anyone go back 40 years and ascertain what happened? Witnesses, responsible authorities, even the perpetrator himself or herself, may have passed away.”

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