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Child Victims Act due for vote Monday

Last Updated by Karen DeWitt on

The Child Victims Act is scheduled to be approved in the state legislature this week. Sponsors say they have fixed a perceived flaw in the legislation that opponents said could provide a loophole for public schools in sexual abuse cases.

The Catholic Church recently pulled back on its long-standing opposition to provisions of the Child Victims Act that end the statute of limitations for survivors to bring suits against their abusers. But church leaders said the measure, as written, might shield public schools and other institutions, like hospitals, because it did not change a law that says anyone filing suit against a public entity must file a notice of claim by 90 days after the incident.

Senate sponsor Brad Hoylman says he believes the measure supersedes that rule and would treat private and public institutions equally. But he says he and the Assembly sponsor, Linda Rosenthal, are adding clarifying language to the bill, to end any doubts.

“We’ll do everything we can to make it as explicit as possible,” Hoylman said. “That the bill is even-handed in its application to both public and private institutions.”

The Catholic Church dropped all opposition to the bill Thursday night.

Assemblywoman Rosenthal, in a statement, said: “The horrific sins of past abuse can never be absolved, but the passage of the Child Victims Act will deliver an opportunity for accountability and redress that survivors in New York have never before had.”

Senator Hoylman says passing the law would give survivors some justice, and would also prevent future victims because the court actions would “out” alleged perpetrators and remove them from situations where they interact with children.

“There’s a very important public safety component,” Hoylman said. “Through the rules of evidence and normal discovery, it  helps to point out the fact that some predators may still be working in schools or have contact with children because they’ve never been identified as such.”

The bill is on the legislative calendar for Monday. 

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