Paying for Sins of the Fathers, and of Others, Too
Should it be possible to sue the city of New York for sexual abuse by public school teachers that happened decades ago? How about doctors or hospital attendants? Police officers? Welfare workers? Playground attendants?
For nearly a year, the city has tiptoed around that question, but in the coming months, there may be no ducking it. Legislation in Albany would force public officials to answer for the crimes of earlier generations, just as Catholic bishops have.
What began as an effort by legislators to expand judicial accountability for sexual abuse by Catholic clergy has grown to cover people in every walk of life. One bill would temporarily suspend the statute of limitations, and allow people who say they were abused as children to file lawsuits up to age 58 — that is, 40 years after they turned 18.
Until last year, proposals to change the statute of limitations would not have affected public bodies and fallen largely on the church. After much debate, the bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, a Queens Democrat, was amended to include governments and their employees. Suddenly, lobbyists and advocates for school boards, counties and small towns spoke out. [do tell]
“Statutes of limitation exist for a reason,” said Bob Lowry, the deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. “How can anyone go back 40 years and ascertain what happened? Witnesses, responsible authorities, even the perpetrator himself or herself, may have passed away.”
The whole idea is ridiculous – the statute of limitations for most crimes is 10 yrs.