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NYS Child Victims Act is Flawed

Contact: Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, 212-371-3191, pr@catholicleague.org


NEW YORK, Mar. 5, 2018 /Christian Newswire/ -- Catholic League president Bill Donohue (photo) explains the flaws in the Child Victims Act, a measure included in this year's budget by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. It is being widely distributed to lawmakers, bishops, and the media:


Under current New York State law, victims of child sexual abuse must press charges against the institution where the offense took place by age 21; they have until 23 to file charges against the attacker. The Child Victims Act would allow victims to sue until they turn 50, and would allow criminal charges to be filed until they turn 28. This is a positive step that most applaud.


However, the provision in the Child Victims Act that allows a one-year window to bring suit--for offenses extending back decades--is simply wrongheaded. It not only would make it extremely difficult to render a just decision, it would place in jeopardy the rights of the accused. To be sure, everyone wants justice for victims, but it can never come at the expense of justice for the accused. Here are two recent cases that were investigated in New York that make this point.


Just before Christmas, KIPP Academy, a prominent charter school network, detailed accusations of sexual misconduct made by two students against two New York City teachers. The accusations extended back more than a decade. KIPP did the right thing by hiring a distinguished law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, to probe these cases and offer a conclusion.


Both of the women accusers refused to cooperate with the lawyers. Moreover, the investigation found that no adult at KIPP knew anything about the allegations when the abuse took place. But they did find some students who claimed to have known about the abuse. Those accounts, however, were riddled with inconsistencies.


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