Shockingly, when victims have come forward to seek justice and stop abusers from causing more harm, they have been blocked by current New York State law.
While mental health experts have shown that it can take decades for a victim of child sexual abuse to overcome the fear, shame, and trauma of abuse and be able to come forward to confront their abuser, our current law allows survivors of abuse to pursue criminal or civil justice only until the age of 23, a statute of limitations of, in some cases, only five years.
We are embarrassed that New York state has been ranked among the very worst in the US, alongside Alabama, Michigan and Mississippi, for how the courts and criminal justice system treat survivors of child sex abuse.
Therefore, we urge you to help New York join states like California, Delaware, Minnesota, Hawaii, Illinois and Florida that have recently passed legislation extending or eliminating the statute of limitations, thus creating windows for survivors to come forward.
This legislation will no doubt bring justice, but, it will also prevent further abuse. When similar legislation was passed in California, over 300 previously unknown abusers were identified.
Many of us faith leaders have seen the wounds caused by sexual predators; wounds whose pain cannot be overstated, wounds that may never be fully healed. We also painfully acknowledge that rather than being a source of healing for victims of child sexual abuse, religious institutions have too often been a part of the problem.
Though we cannot undo the pain that was done, we can stand with victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in their quest for justice. We can and must stand with survivors of child sexual abuse in their quest for justice. We stand with all those children who are still at risk from abusers still at large because of our broken statute of limitations laws. We ask you to do the same: help all survivors of child sexual abuse receive the justice they deserve and help deter future abuse by supporting Statute of Limitations reform.