Assemblywoman Margaret Markey was featured speaker at the 2008 Legislative Breakfast of the New York State Coalition against Sexual Assault in Albany on March 19, 2008.
Speaking on a program with the coalition’s executive director, Jane McEwen, and board member Varrone Munger, Assemblywoman Markey told the audience that research shows that one in five children in America are sexually abused.
She described how her Assembly bill (A.4560-B) will provide greater justice for victims of childhood sexual abuse and help identify and stop sexual predators from continuing their abuse. With passage of her Assembly bill assured in 2008, she told Coalition members that to ensure that this legislation becomes law they need to reach out to their State Senators to urge that they support the companion bill in the Senate (S.4614-A).
Following are remarks by Assemblywoman Markey at the event:
Thank you for this opportunity to speak about my legislation. As all of you here this morning know sex crimes are among the most heinous and deeply disturbing in our society. This is particularly true when they are committed against children. At present, New York State law enables sexual predators to avoid the consequences of their crimes by unreasonably shielding them from criminal prosecution and civil action.
Our present law also enables abusers to continue their predatory actions and assault new victims. We in the Legislature recognized how important it is for victims of sexual assault to get justice for the heinous crimes committed against them.
My bill – A.4560B, the Child Victims Act of New York – will provide the opportunity for victims who were shut off from justice to receive their day in court. And – equally important – it will help identify and expose predators who will otherwise roam freely to repeat their abuse again and again.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that about one in five American children are sexually abused before age 18. But only about 10 percent of these secretive crimes are ever reported. Because of the young age of those who are abused, and the position of authority most abusers have over their victims, the window of time to bring charges, under present law, is far too restrictive.
My bill extends the statute of limitations for bringing charges in child sex abuse cases – in cases where the victim does not report it to law enforcement – from age 18 to age 23. It also calls for a similar extension in the civil statute of limitations. These changes would give a child victim until at least the age of 28 to seek prosecution or civil redress.
One other important provision of my bill – just like the ones that became law in California and Delaware – is creation of a one-year “window” in the civil statute of limitations provisions. This provides one-year from the effective date of the law where victims of any age would be able to seek damages for past instances of child sexual abuse. This important provision will enable many victims who are now adults to get the justice they have previously been denied under the current restrictive law.
My legislation has been adopted by the Assembly three times and will be voted on again shortly.
Senator Stephen M. Saland is sponsor of the companion bill in the State Senate, 4614-A. Last year, his bill did not even come out of the Senate Codes Committee. To help ensure it is enacted in this session, we need the help of everybody in this room. We need you to reach out to your local Senator and urge him or her to support Senator Saland’s bill.