11 to 8 (update)
The New York State Assembly Codes Committee approved a controversial bill that would suspend the statutes of limitations in cases of sexual abuse involving private institutions. Now the bill will go to the Assembly floor for a vote.
For those who would rather not read the whole piece, excerpts:
But the alternative measure, A5708/S3107, had gained sponsors and attention since its introduction last month as the New York State Catholic Conference put its lobbying clout in Albany behind the legislation. The alternative bill was defeated 11-8 by the Codes Committee Tuesday.
The chairman of the Codes Committee, Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn, said he thought both bills would be reported out by his committee and was surprised the newer legislation was defeated.
“I thought that the members would try to take a middle position and maybe try to forge a compromise by reporting both bills,” Lentol, who voted for both bills, said in an interview following the meeting.
Defeat by the Codes Committee does not necessarily doom the alternative bill. After members took their roll call vote indicating 11 “no” votes, Lentol took the bill off the committee’s agenda. That will allow for its return to the committee’s calendar at a later time this legislative session, Lentol said.
“I expect that … there will be pressure for it to come back,” he said.
A2596/S2568, the bill approved in the past by the Assembly, would create a one-year window for the filing of civil suits by the victims of childhood sexual abuse if they were past the age when the current statute of limitations expires, which is when an alleged victim turns 23. The bill would also extend the statute of limitations for the filing of civil suits to when alleged victims turn 28 and the statute of limitations to when victims turn 28 for the filing of some criminal charges relating to the sexual abuse of minors.
The Catholic Conference, representing the state’s Catholic bishops and New York Archbishop-elect Timothy Dolan, contends that Markey’s bill would allow the filing of suits against the church based on alleged abuse that may have taken place decades before. The church could not hope to defend itself properly against many of the claims, the conference argues.
The alternative, A5708/S3107, contains no window for reviving otherwise time-barred civil actions nor an extender of the statute of limitations for filing sex-related criminal charges for childhood sex abuse. It would extend to 25 the age until which childhood sex abuse victims can file civil suits.
Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore, voted for Lopez’s bill and against Markey’s bill Tuesday.
He noted that the state has waived the statute of limitations for the filing of otherwise time-barred civil suits in the past, but only for exposure to substances or drugs that later proved to be dangerous.Schimminger was a chief sponsor of the 1986 “toxic torts” statute allowing late suits by victims of exposure to industrial chemicals, including tungsten carbide.
The state also waived the statute of limitations for suits by those exposed to the Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange and to DES, a drug prescribed to pregnant women in the 1950s to ease nausea.
As for Lopez’s bill, Poust said he expected it to return to the Codes Committee, possibly with minor alterations, and to also get to the floor of the Assembly.
Lentol said the Markey bill now goes to the full Assembly, though he said it could take several weeks before it comes up for debate and a vote.
For reasons discussed in Peggy Steinfels’s thread on this, I can’t support the Markey bill.