Statute Of Limitations On Child Abuse Cases Should Be Longer

Rarely does a month go by without us having to publish a police or court report involving an adult who has victimized a child sexually.

It was only a few short weeks ago we reported charges against a Cassadaga man accused of alleged sexual conduct with a child under the age of 11. There are enough such cases for Patrick Swanson, county district attorney, to suggest adding money to his budget next year to assign a prosecutor solely to sexual crimes against children.

New York state has tough penalties for those who victimize children, but clearly criminal penalties for those who prey on children are not sufficient to deter some. And, we know that sometimes it can take years for young victims to process what happened to them. Under current law, the statute of limitations begins when the victim turns 18. Under the Child Victims Act, approved in the state Assembly, in cases involving a felony sex crime against a minor that have a statute of limitations for criminal prosecution, the limitations period would have begun when the victim turned 23 years of age while the statute of limitations for civil cases would be extended until the victim turns 50. Both Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, voted in favor of the change, but a companion bill didn’t make it out of the state Senate’s Rules Committee.

If there is a good reason why the Senate chose not to take action we’d like to hear it. If there is none, then we expect the state Senate should give the Child Victims Act a fair airing on the Senate floor when the legislature convenes its next session.

Victims of child abuse deserve to have a real debate on the legislation when the state Legislature begins its next session.

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