Showdown Over Bills On Sex-Abuse Statute
by Hella Winston
Special To The Jewish Week
The bills are sponsored by Margaret Markey (D-Queens) and Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) respectively, and have already set up a showdown, pitting survivors of abuse and their advocates — who support the Markey bill — against major Catholic and Jewish institutions, which are backing the Lopez version.
The Markey bill, which made it out of the Assembly Codes Committee earlier this month by a vote of 11-8, extends the civil and criminal statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse. More significantly, it creates a one-year window during which...
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Child sex abuse bill approved in Assembly
ALBANY - A bill extending the statute of limitations on lawsuits over future allegations of child sex abuse was approved Tuesday by an Assembly committee.
In an 18-1 vote, the Codes Committee sent the legislation sponsored by Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) to the Assembly floor for a vote, which could occur in a few weeks.
The Lopez bill rivals another from Assemb. Margaret M. Markey (D-Maspeth) that also extends the statute of limitations but more controversially establishes a special one-year window for abuse victims to file suit in civil court regardless how long ago the assault occurred.
Many abuse claims against Catholic priests were dismissed because they were made after the current time limit, which is five years after the accuser turns 18.
The Markey bill passed the committee nearly two weeks ago in an 11-8 vote while the Lopez bill failed.
Lopez then amended it to make employers and other third parties liable and waive the 90-day notice of claim requirement for suits against government workers.
"My bill treats public and private schools the same," he said.
Markey contends that her legislation does so as well. It passed the Assembly three times previously, only to die in the then Republican-controlled State Senate.
Still, the Catholic Church and others back Lopez's bill over Markey's. Gov. David A. Paterson also supports Lopez's.
-- JAMES T. MADORE
Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes presses to expose sex abuse in Jewish community
Wednesday, April 1st 2009, 4:00 AM
The Brooklyn district attorney's office is planning a new crackdown on sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where victims have hid their shame for decades.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes will announce Project Kol Tzedek - Hebrew for "Voice of Justice" - on Wednesday.
The first-ever team of prosecutors, counselors, religious leaders and Jewish social agencies will work to encourage young victims to name their attackers.
Sexual abuse in the city's Hasidic enclaves has gone largely unreported. Victims say they fear the shame of the attack and condemnation for revealing secrets to secular authorities.
But the culture has begun to change, officials said.
"Over the last several months, there has been a lot of articles in the newspaper," said Sex Crimes Bureau Chief Rhonnie Jaus.
"It has helped people in the community come forward, and we are starting to see more cases."
Since October, the Daily News has reported on five cases of men in Hasidic neighborhoods charged with sexually abusing children, ranging in age from 7 to 15.
"This is the highest amount that I have ever seen," Jaus said.
Under Project Kol Tzedek, prosecutors will visit yeshivas and synagogues, and the DA will open a hotline and host meetings with victims interested in coming forward.
Despite the progress, some participants asked not to be identified, afraid of being shunned for working with authorities.
"The community as a whole doesn't deal well with the severity of this problem," said one agency executive who is quietly working with the DA's office. "In order for victims to feel comfortable, we feel we should remain under the radar."