Catholic Church fights push to allow more abuse claims in NY


Make text smaller Make text larger



Photos




By DAVID KLEPPER

— The Roman Catholic Church is opposing efforts in New York to allow sex abuse accusers to file lawsuits after the statute of limitations has expired, warning of dire financial consequences if the state allows plaintiffs to sue decades after the purported abuse occurred.

Currently in New York, victims of child sex abuse have until five years after they turn 18 to file a lawsuit. The same statute of limitations applies to most child sex crimes.

A bill pending in the state Assembly would eliminate the statute of limitations on abuse cases going forward — and create a one-year window to allow anyone to file lawsuits no matter when the abuse occurred. Supporters gathered April 22 in Albany to push for the bill.

A similar law in California passed in 2002 resulted in dioceses there paying $1.2 billion in legal settlements.

Such a law in New York would cause the church "catastrophic financial harm," according to a statement of opposition from The New York State Catholic Conference, which argues a one-year window would do nothing to stop new cases of abuse while "enriching trial lawyers" by allowing them to file suits relating to "stale lawsuits regarding long-ago charges."

"It is wrong to hold innocent people accountable today for the evil actions of long-dead individuals from a different generation," the statement reads.

Supporters, however, note that many potential plaintiffs could be people in their late 20s, 30s and 40s who were abused by people still in a position of power over minors.

"The victims aren't dead. They're alive, and suffering, and they want their day in court," said Sally Butler, a Dominican sister from Brooklyn who says her foster son was abused by priests as a child. "The bishops say this is anti-Catholic. What it really is is a civil rights movement for children."

In its statement, the conference also argues that the law unfairly targets private groups like the church and the Boy Scouts because of existing statutes that require the prompt filing of lawsuits against public entities.

The bill has long languished on the legislative agenda and faces significant opposition in the Senate. The bill's sponsor, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, is hoping for support this year from an unlikely ally: Pope Francis. Markey wrote to the Vatican asking for the pope's help after he announced a visit to the U.S. this fall.

As an alternative, the church supports a second bill that would, going forward, extend the statute of limitations to 10 years after the victim turns 18. That bill does not create a window for lawsuits filed after the current statute of limitations has passed.


Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments

Pool Rules



MUST READ NEWS

Image Got old phones? Here's how to reuse, recycle or sell them
By BARBARA ORTUTAY
AP Technology Writer
It's natural to get the phone-upgrade itch when the likes of Apple, Samsung and others keep coming out with newer models. And...
Image Patients with mental disorders get half of all opioid prescriptions
By Vickie Connor
Adults with a mental illness receive more than 50 percent of the 115 million opioid prescriptions in the United States annually, according to a study...
Image Celebrating the 35th anniversary of the freedom to read
More than a book a day faces expulsion from free and open public access in U.S. schools and libraries every year. There have been more than 10,000 attempts since the American...
Image Still waiting for a new world order
Three suffragettes brought to life in a Chester Historical Program surprised many in the audience when they learned that the Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced to Congress...

VIDEOS



Sign up to get our newsletter emailed to you every week!

  • Enter your email address in the box below.
  • Select the newsletters you would like to subscribe to.
  • Click the 'SUBSCRIBE' button.



MOST COMMENTED



Find more about Weather in Chester, NY