State statutes of limitations provide a substantial barrier for priest sex abuse survivors seeking justice and truth after what is often decades of silence and suffering. Even more important than monetary gains, civil lawsuits give survivors an opportunity for closure and healing.
State Senator Thomas Duane introduced window legislation in New York and outlined his plan in an editorial published yesterday. His proposal provides a one year window for otherwise time-barred survivors to file a lawsuit. A window is a step in the right direction in statute of limitations reform.
When the California legislature passed a one-year window in 2003, approximately 250 previously unknown child molesters were exposed. How many offenders are part of communities nationwide, currently unexposed and putting children at risk? What do current state of limitations say about our priorities? We are protecting the rights of molesters over the rights of the young and innocent.
The statute of limitations is a due process issue. Current state statutes of limitation fail to provide due process to children when molesters are allowed to be free. We must bring accountability and exposure to pedophiles in hiding and we must warn the children who are at risk. America and New York must repeal the statute of limitations.
For more information on statute of limitations reform, see Professor Marci Hamilton’s website and book, Justice Denied.