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Future Of 'Child Victims Act' Uncertain Before End Of Session


BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) - A bill that would extend the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse was not part of the New York State budget approved this month.

The Child Victims Act could pass before the legislative session ends, but a pretty big sticking point stands in the way.

A few weeks before the state budget was due, Manhattan Senator Brad Hoylman addressed the future of Child Victims Act if it's not in the state budget. Hoylman is the bill’s sponsor.

“There may be some room for negotiation," he said. "But I will say that one important piece that is non-negotiable is a one-year look back period.”

That one-year window would allow any allegation that had been barred by statute of limitations the ability to go to court. State law limits child victims to age 21 to sue an institution, like a church or a school, and 23 to sue their abuser.

The Catholic Church is among the groups against the one-year look-back. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan called it “toxic” for the church. He’s pushed politicians to not include it in the bill.

Danielle Cummings is a spokeswoman for the Syracuse Catholic Diocese, which includes Binghamton and Cortland. She’s also against the one-year look-back, but says the church isn’t the only one it would be toxic for.

"Let’s keep in mind that the governor has included public entities, has included churches, has included all of those. So it’s not a one-year window that’s opposed by the church," said Cummings.

The insurance industry and the Boy Scouts of America are also against the provision. Cummings asked what the effect on a taxpayer would be if the one-year look-back extends to municipalities, like Governor Cuomo pushed for in his proposed budget.

Still, a negotiation might not be necessary: a faction of breakaway Democrats in the Senate has just reunited with the mainline Democrats. That means a special election set for later this month could give the Democrats complete control of state government and that may create a path for the Child Victims Act to pass before the end of the session.