(From the Jewish Star)
To the Editor:
OHEL tells us, via David Mandel in, "Reporting Sexual Abuse" (March 27, 2009), that it supports legislation to "extend the statute of limitations on reporting sexual abuse until the victim survivor is 28 years old."
The public should be aware, however, that the pending legislation treats criminal and civil cases differently.
On the criminal side, there is currently a five year statute of limitations for most felonies, including sex abuse crimes. When a sex crime is committed against a child, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child reaches 18. Thus, the statute of limitations expires at age 23. Assembly Member Marge Markey's bill would extend the criminal statute of limitations to age 28. OHEL appears to support this legislation.
The Markey bill also addresses civil claims, whereby sex abuse victims can seek compensation for their grievous injuries. The bill would open a one-year window for late civil claims to be timely filed. In California, where such a law was enacted, the identities of 300 sex abusers came to light. Mr. Mandel's article does not address the civil claim aspect of the Markey bill.
Other Jewish groups have unequivocally supported the entire Markey bill, including my own organization, Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, and also, the Rabbinical Council of America, and the Union for Traditional Judaism. The Orthodox Union has stated it "generally supports the expansion of the statute of limitations to enable victims of sexual abuse to pursue legal claims" and is "not opposed to this legislation."
Our Position Paper to the N.Y.S. Legislature can be read on our web site, . The effects of child sex abuse are devastating, and include substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, and suicide. Both criminal and civil justice are sorely needed for the victims and their families.
Elliot Pasik, Esq.