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Michael Polenberg on Child Sex Abuse Laws

Michael Polenberg Vice President of Government Affairs at Safe-Horizon

The New York Times
By Michael Polenberg
May 2, 2016

To the Editor:

Re “In Court for Cover-Up, Hastert Admits Sex Abuse” front page, April 28:

If not for a criminal investigation into the illegal bank transactions of J. Dennis Hastert, the former Republican speaker of the House, the survivors he abused as young boys may have never seen him behind bars. Tragically, many abusers simply run out the clock in states where the statutes of limitation for child sexual abuse expire shortly after survivors reach adulthood.

In New York, for example, victims of most forms of childhood sex abuse must file criminal or civil litigation by their 23rd birthday or their standing expires. With a startling 1 in 10 American children being sexually abused before 18 and tremendous pressure on child victims to remain silent, we must ensure much greater access to justice in our courts.

This is why Safe Horizon, which helped 5, 337 child abuse survivors last year alone, supports legislation before the New York Legislature that would greatly expand the ability of adult survivors to seek civil and criminal damages and create a one-year window to retroactively file civil damages against their offenders.

Mr. Hastert’s case is a wake-up call. Legislatures should pass these long-overdue statute-of-limitation bills now.

MICHAEL POLENBERG
Vice President, Government Affairs, Safe Horizon
New York

Read the original article here.