Sen. Brad Hoylman (c.) is a co-sponsor on a proposal to allow kid victims to seek justice against predators as adults.
Advocates for victims of child sex abuse on Monday hailed the state Senate’s bill to eliminate the time limits to bring criminal or civil cases.
“It’s about time that the communities wake up to understand that we are not trying to destroy Catholic schools or yeshivas,” said Mark Appel, founder of Voice of Justice, an advocacy group. “This is about protecting children.”
Sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), the bill would be the most comprehensive in the Legislature in making it easier for victims and law enforcement to go after predators.
The Democrats’ legislation borrows from several previous bills designed to tackle the same issue.
But it is also broader because it eliminates a requirement that kids abused at public institutions, like schools or the foster care system, file an intent to sue the government entity within 90 days of the incident occurring.
The Catholic Church has argued that the 90-day requirement is biased since current law gives an adult who was abused as a child up to the age of 23 to bring a lawsuit against religious organizations, the Boy Scouts and other private and nonprofit institutions.
Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the other co-sponsor on the bill.
The new proposal was welcomed by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. The legislation “covers all institutions equally,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.
The New York State Catholic Conference — the biggest opponent of past bills — has not taken a stance on the proposed measure. Agudath Israel of America, a powerful ultra-Orthodox organization, is against any change to the law. The group fears that a flood of lawsuits could bankrupt some cash-strapped yeshivas.
The last time a lawmaker sought to remove the requirement that sex abuse victims file an intent to sue a school or other public entity within 90 days of the incident was in 2009.
A coalition of advocates for children plans to go to Albany on May 3 to lobby for the legislation.
With Kenneth Lovett in Albany