Clergy Sexual Abuse Cases. The prevalence of sexual abusers among members of the clergy is appalling. In the years since the widespread cover-up efforts have been exposed, it has come to light that thousands of Catholic clergy members have abused children. By some estimates, more than 100,000 children have been victimized by clergy members since 1950. As survivors have emerged, the church has spent nearly 4 billion dollars settling claims from people who experienced abuse. Of course, Catholicism is not the only religion plagued by high incidents of child abuse, but the size of the scandal within the Catholic church has made it the subject of the majority of related headlines.
While the accusations continue to come forward, the legal system has been grappling with the complicated situation of statutes of limitations as they apply to people who were children at the time of the abuse. Many states allow for civil cases to be filed several years following the time when a child reaches adulthood. However, for a variety of reasons, many victims of sexual abuse do not come forward quickly. Some states have responded to this reality by creating very long statutes of limitations for filing civil claims, and by removing criminal statutes of limitations on certain crimes.
New York Considers Extending the Statute of Limitations
New York’s current statute of limitations allows for victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits up to five years following their 18th birthday. This law is less generous to victims than the law in many other states. As of January 2018, the New York State Assembly approved new legislation that would extend the statute of limitations, allowing for a victim to file a civil suit up to age 50. The new law would also give victims whose time limit passed a one-year window in which to file their claims.
The law has not yet been enacted and will only be authorized if the State Senate approves it. It is not clear whether the effort to extend the statute of limitations will be successful.
Past Efforts to Change the Statute of Limitations
In the past, efforts to extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse have met resistance. The Roman Catholic Church and Agudath Israel of America have lobbied against efforts to allow victims more time to file their claims. In 2016, the efforts to prevent the extension of the time limit prevailed, and the law did not pass.
The New York Archdiocese faced criticism for a 2016 plan to compensate victims of child sexual abuse as it was seen by many as an attempt to eliminate cases before the law changed and made it easier for victims to seek remedies in court. The settlement offers made by the archdiocese required that anyone receiving compensation give up their right to sue in a court of law. Others have expressed their suspicion that the funds are being offered so that the church can avoid disclosing information that shows the extent of the abuse.
Free Case Evaluation with Parker Waichman LLP
Anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse deserves the opportunity to hold the abuser accountable for their harmful actions. At Parker Waichman LLP, we understand how sensitive these cases are for our clients. Contact us today at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
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