Justice for the victims of child sex abuse
By Marci Hamilton
New York is among the worst states in the United States for justice for child sex-abuse victims. That is because its statutes of limitations are prohibitively short.
While much of the country was expanding statutes of limitations in the past 25 years, New York has stood still. Victims must sue the perpetrator by age 23 and a responsible institution by age 21. There is no limit for the victim who seeks to press charges for rape but for most other child sex crimes, the victim has until the age of 23. These time periods are too short.
New York’s statute creates groups of victims:
- Group 1: This includes those whose claims have expired — the vast majority of the state’s victims.
- Group 2: This includes children who are being sexually assaulted now, so their claims are still live, but odds are that they will be unable to press charges or sue before the statute expires. It takes most victims into their 30s, 40s and 50s before they are ready to come forward. Some never do.
- Group 3: This is the largest, and it includes the New York public, which knows less about existing child predators than most every other state in the country. Only Alabama, Michigan, and Mississippi statute of limitations laws are as bad.
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