Lawmaker expects Assembly to vote on bill allowing sexually abused children to bring lawsuits as adults

By Kenneth Lovett (NY Daily News)
March 29, 2016

ALBANY — The sponsor of a bill that would make it easier for sexually abused children to bring lawsuits as adults believes the Assembly will take up the measure this year — the first time since 2008.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) said she is hopeful her bill will come to the floor for a vote before the legislative session ends in June.

Markey’s bill would also open up a one-year window for people abused as kids to bring civil lawsuits in cases where the current statute of limitations had already expired — a measure opposed by the Senate Republicans, the Catholic Church and even some Democrats in her own chamber.

Markey’s bill is sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan). Hoylman said he’s using the Daily News’ Tuesday front page — part of a series highlighting New York’s worst-in-the-nation law that requires victims of child sexual abuse to come forward by the age of 23 or lose legal recourse — to urge his colleagues to co-sponsor the bill.

Hoylman told The News that having any statute of limitation for kid sex abuse survivors is unjust because many victims suppress the memories for years.

But the measure is expected to again face a tough road in the Republican-controlled Senate, which in the past sided with the Catholic Church in opposing the idea of giving people a year to bring lawsuits in cases where the statute of limitations expired.

Dennis Poust, spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, said the bill could not only lead to financial ruin for the church and nonprofits like the Boy Scouts, but is also “contrary to justice” since it would not cover cases where kids were molested in public settings like schools or foster care programs. In cases involving public entities, a person must file a notice of intent to sue within 90 days of the incident.

“I don’t see the impetus for this to move forward this year, but anything is possible,” said Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) of the bill sponsored by Markey.

Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-S.I.) opposes a one-year window for lawsuits in cases where the statute of limitations has expired. Cusick has a competing bill that would allow future cases related to child sexual abuse to be filed up until a person is 28, as opposed to the current 23. The church supports that bill.

“It’s a sensitive issue and we want to address it and we want to do it in a fair manner,” Cusick said.

A spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio said, “We support ensuring that victims of sexual assault have a fair opportunity to file civil claims. We look forward to engaging with state leaders and stakeholders on this bill.”