Sex Abuse Statue of Limitations

Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-New York, speaks on his proposed amendment to human trafficking legislation Monday during session in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Albany.

Mike Groll—Associated Press

Brad M. Hoylman is a New York State senator representing the 27th District in Manhattan. The 50-year-old, who graduated from West Virginia University and Harvard Law School, has been in office for just four years, so he may be naive enough to still think he can make a difference in the sewer system we call a state capital.

Here is how bad things are in Albany.

For some time, Hoylman — who is in the minority as a Democrat in the Senate — has been trying to introduce a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for prosecuting child sexual abuse crimes.

It’s a good bill and long overdue.

We know from scandals within the Catholic Church that prosecuting these types of predators is almost impossible, because the victims rarely come forward until they are adults and the statute of limitations is past.

Even then, it is going to be difficult to prosecute someone like Jerry Sandusky, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert or your local parish priest.

But Hoylman’s bill went one step further. It allowed for a one-year “revival” period for “previously time-barred civil actions” for a child younger than the age of 18.

It gives victims one last chance to sue for justice.

Many argue that would lead to an avalanche of civil litigation that could bankrupt religious organizations.

Marci Hamilton, an advocate for the legislation who has done extensive research on the matter, told the New York Daily News this is not the case.

She found that in eight states that enacted the one-year window provision, fewer than 3,000 people filed lawsuits.

The Daily News cited a 2012 insurance report that estimated 100,000 children in the United States were victims of clerical sex abuse.

Considering that the Catholic Church has already paid approximately $3 billion to resolve child sex abuse claims, we believe we are beyond the point when there is any debate that these events happened.

Justice is long overdue.

Those kinds of facts make the Albany power game that was waged this past week that much more despicable.

Frustrated by his inability to get his bill introduced in the state Senate, Hoylman attached his bill as a ”hostile amendment” to the “human trafficking hotline bill,” a totally innocuous bill that would allow emergency rooms and other sites to hang posters about a human trafficking resource center hotline.

The Republicans bellowed that this was grandstanding, and a political stunt.

We believe it was a frustrated legislator trying to get something done on a serious issue that has been ignored for too long.

Sen. Joseph Griffo, who presided over the session for the Republicans, ruled the amendment was not “germane” to the “human trafficking hotline bill,” which was essentially true.

Democrats then asked for a procedural vote to overrule Griffo.

The vote was 30-29 against overruling Griffo’s ruling and killing Hoylman’s amendment.

All 30 Republicans — including Sen. Elizabeth Little and Sen. Kathy Marchione — voted to derail the bill from moving forward.

The Democrats said it was a vote to support past child predators.

Considering what was at stake, it is hard to argue with them. In another era, Hoylman might have been able to reach across the aisle and get important work done with a like-minded member of the other party, but not in the cesspool of current Albany politics where nothing of any importance gets done.

If just one of the 30 Republican senators had rebuffed the majority or showed just a hint that they had a moral compass, we might be on our way to a new law.

But not one senator did that.

Later that day, the Senate passed the “human trafficking hotline bill,” allowing important posters to appear all around the state.

I guess we should congratulate them for that.

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Terry Coomes, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Tom Portuese.


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