BUFFALO, N.Y. — Local advocates are calling for the passage of the Child Victims Act, legislation that would extend the statute of limitations in criminal cases from 23 years to 28, and to age 50 in civil cases. It would also establish a one year window for past victims to come forward with a civil suit, even if the statute has expired.
The Assembly passed the bill again last June, 139 to 7, and is expected to vote again later this year, as it has yet to reach the Senate floor. Republican Assemblyman Andy Goodell of Jamestown was one of those no votes, and says the legislation takes the wrong approach. He says extending the statutes enables the abuser to continue to take advantage of countless others.
Proponents like Democrat Assemblyman Sean Ryan and Republican Michael Norris, who says despite some technical deficiencies in need of revision, the bill provides victims the opportunity to pursue justice.
"They have lifelong mental health problems, all often their earnings are lower, high unemployment, high substance abuse. So often these people come out permanently damaged because of that, so reopening the courthouse doors to these victims is a positive thing," said Ryan.
"We want someone who's been abused, sexually abused, to report it right away. And not stretch it out for decades and decades and decades as this bill would do. That's really hard emotionally," said Goodell.
A panel discussion on the legislation is set for Saturday on the University at Buffalo's South Campus.