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One More Month For Child Victim Act Cases To Be Filed In Court

After slowing down for a period of months, the filing of Child Victims Act cases in Chautauqua County has increased in recent weeks.

The extended “look back” window included when the state Legislature passed the Child Victims Act ends Aug. 14 after a year-long extension prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the deadline looming for Child Victims Act cases, some state lawmakers want to create a one-year look back for adults to sue over past sexual abuse. The Adult Victims Act was passed unanimously in the state Senate in June but never made it out of the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee. The legislation was first proposed in 2019.

The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan. The legislation can still be taken up in the Assembly when the next legislative session begins in January.

“The ASA is a common sense, narrowly tailored piece of legislation that will provide adult survivors of sexual assault who were stymied by short statutes of limitations with access to long-denied justice,” Rosenthal said after the Senate passed the bill. “Now that the State Senate has passed the bill, the Assembly, the People’s House, must act to continue to support survivors. I want to thank my partner in the state Senate, Brad Hoylman, for his commitment to survivors and for fighting alongside me and the coalition to see the CVA, and now the ASA become law.”

While legislators debate a new sex abuse look back window for the courts, Child Victims Act cases continue to be filed. Four new cases have been filed since the middle of June in Chautauqua County — two involving the Allegheny Highland Council Boy Scouts of America, one against Chautauqua County and another against the Panama Central School District.

A late June filing by a North Carolina resident against Chautauqua County and 10 unnamed defendants, it is alleged a child was sexually abused by a foster father several times in 1970.

The woman alleges telling a friend she was being abused, and it is believed the friend reported the abuse to the county. The lawsuit alleges the girl was not immediately removed from the home and was allegedly sexually abused several more times before she was removed from the foster home.

The lawsuit states the woman and her attorneys tried to discern the identity of the 10 defendants but was unable to do so. Instead, the lawsuit was filed against the county because it was in charge of the foster care system.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Chautauqua County against the Allegheny Highlands Council Inc. Boy Scouts of America alleges a scout was abused by a Wellsville-based scout leader from 1971 to 1973. The suit also names the Lions Club of Wellsville because the agency sponsored the area Boy Scout troop and hosted troop meetings.

Another filing against the local Boy Scout council also names as defendants the Chautauqua County of Emergency Services, Cherry Creek Fire Department and St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church, which formerly was located on Main Street, Cherry Creek. In that case, a man alleges he was abused by two scout leaders when the boy was 10 years old. The county and fire department wee named in the suit because they helped obtain a charter for the troop to be formed in Cherry Creek while the church hosted the meetings.

A final case filed in early July alleges one former Panama Central School student sexually abused another student from 1992 to 1997. The woman involved alleges in her lawsuit that the school district did not follow up on Lakewood-Busti Police advisories to keep the students apart and the district allegedly did not train teachers, staff and other employees to keep the two students apart. The woman also claims the male student asked for help with school work in order to have contact with her behind closed doors and without proper supervision.

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