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Sunday, December 11, 2011

ASSEMBLYWOMAN MARGARET MARKEY SPONSORS BILL BILL TO GIVE SEX ABUSE VICTIMS MORE TIME TO FIGHT

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey sponsors bill to give sex-abuse victims more time to fight

Bill would start clock on five-year statue of limitations on criminal and civil cases when victims turn 23

http://www.wpix.com/news/wpix-sex-abuse-statute-limitations-congress,0,4179937.story?track=rss

Saturday, December 10 2011, 8:35 PM

 Assemblywoman Margaret Markey fights to extend the statute of limitation on child molestation cases, like one in Syracuse. Times Union
Skip Dickstein/Albany Times Union
Assemblywoman Margaret Markey fights to extend the statute of limitation on child molestation cases, like one in Syracuse.
A New York assemblywoman says outrage over sex-abuse scandals at Poly Prep and Syracuse University should convince lawmakers that it is time to extend the statute of limitations on the state’s sex-abuse laws.
Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, a Democrat from Queens, is the sponsor of a bill that would start the clock on the five-year statute of limitations on criminal and civil cases when victims turn 23 years old. Under current law, the clock starts ticking when the victim turns 18. Markey’s bill would also create a one-year window for victims to file civil lawsuits against abusers who are now shielded from litigation because the statute of limitations has expired.
“It is the only way for people at Syracuse and Poly Prep to get justice,” Markey told the Daily News.
Markey first introduced the bill seven years ago and it cleared the Assembly several times but has faced stiff opposition from the Republican-controlled Senate and the Catholic Church. Markey said she needs to find a lawmaker to sponsor her bill in the Senate.
“I’m going to do what I can to get Gov. Cuomo and the Senate on board,” Markey said. “I think we have a fair chance with the governor. This bill is not about the Catholic Church. It is about pedophiles. But some of my colleagues are intimidated by the Catholic Church.”
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said last week that two men who accused Bernie Fine, Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim’s longtime assistant, of sexual abuse are credible, but that Fine cannot be prosecuted under state law because of statute of limitations issues.
A Poly Prep graduate, Jay Paggioli, sued the private Brooklyn school in 2005, claiming he had been sexually abused by longtime football coach Phil Foglietta. The suit was dismissed because of statute of limitations issues. Paggioli is now a plaintiff, with eight other men, in a federal RICO suit that claims Poly Prep officials knew for decades that Foglietta was a serial child molester but failed to stop his abuse. Foglietta died in 1998.
  
Michael Dowd, a New York attorney who represents hundreds of victims in sex-abuse related cases, said the current statute of limitations on sex abuse cases fails to recognize that many victims are not willing to step forward until years or even decades after they are abused. Sexual predators, he said, threaten to harm the children they molest if they report it to an adult. Pedophiles convince their victims that they, too, are responsible for the abuse. Some victims fear they will be labeled as homosexuals.
“They are told by their abusers, ‘Nobody will believe you,’ ” he said.
Dowd said the provision in Markey’s bill that creates a one-year window for civil litigation is important because it will give victims an opportunity to demonstrate how institutions, worried about public-relations and fund-raising nightmares that come with reports of sexual abuse, protect child molesters. It would also encourage other victims to step forward.
Bob Oliva, the longtime coach at Christ the King High School, boasted to a friend that he would not face criminal charges after a longtime family friend accused him of sex abuse because of statute of limitations issues. A Boston grand jury, however, indicted Oliva on sex-abuse charges. Prosecutor Leora Joseph was able to pursue charges against Oliva for abusing the victim during a 1976 trip to Fenway park because the clock on the statute of limitations stopped ticking when Oliva left the state.
In 2002, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office investigated Ernest Lorch, the founder of the once-prestigious Riverside Church basketball program, but the investigation was dropped because of statute of limitations issues. Lorch was indicted on a sexual-abuse charge by a grand jury in Massachusetts last year for allegedly molesting a teen during a trip to Amherst in the 1970s. A Westchester judge ruled last month that Lorch was not competent to be extradited, a decision that will be reviewed early next year.

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