Once again, New York State Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey has introduced legislation (A1771-2013) to extend the Statute Of Limitations (SOL) for new cases of child sex abuse and to create a one year window for older victims to sue for civil damages. Just to be clear, abuse committed before the new law goes into effect will still be governed by the old SOLs. However, there will be one exception. For one year after the bill goes into effect, individuals alleging abuse will be able to sue those they hold responsible.
Once again, we can anticipate opposition by the Catholic Church and their partners in crime, Agudath Israel of America (Agudah). They will scream, “This will ruin us because unscrupulous lawyers and greedy claimants will pummel us. They will ask, “How can we defend ourselves against claims from long ago when we don’t have adequate records to make the case that we are innocent?”
However, the burden of proof is high and it falls on the plaintiff. The older a case the harder it is to assemble the evidence and convince a jury. Ordinarily, plaintiffs have to find lawyers willing to take the case on a contingency basis. Lawyers routinely reject cases because the odds of winning are too low or the defendant is judgment proof.
Defenders of these institutions also complain that they will be forced to pay off frivolous claimants just to avoid the cost of a trial. Actually, the initial burden of proof will fall on the claimant who will need to have his lawyer furnish a “Certificate of Merit” based on reports by licensed mental health professionals confirming that the claims have merit. This forces lawyers to spend thousands of dollars before they can even start the case.
The employer of an abuser is not liable unless they had “notice.” The plaintiff has to prove that the employer was informed that they had an abuser on their hands and allowed him to continue. Unfortunately, for the Catholic Church, there are records, very detailed records, of complaints about abuse and even the fact that Church officials believed those complaints and yet kept those priests in contact with kid. Very few orthodox Jewish institutions kept those sorts of records.
But there is one important exception, the serial assailant where there are multiple victims with consistent accounts and with some evidence that they informed the institution and the institution ignored the notice and allowed the abuse to continue. This is what Agudah fears. They know perfectly well that there are such cases in orthodox institutions. In fact they know they have such cases in their own Camp Agudah where Yehudah Kolko worked and abused.
So, irresponsible institutions will lose money and serial offenders will be exposed. This is all for the good.
Action: Attend Margaret Markey’s hearings on the Child Victims Act on Friday, March 8, 2013, 10:00 a.m. at the State Office Building, 250 Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10007