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New York Assembly to consider new sex abuse laws

Albany has recently seen a discussion surrounding how civil sexual abuse lawsuits should be tried in New York. Under the current laws, if someone is the victim of a sexual assault under the age of 18, he or she must file a sexual abuse lawsuit by the age of 23 or lose any ability to hold an abuser or negligent third party liable for the physical and emotional suffering of a sexual assault. While a new bill is being discussed that would provide more protections for the victims of sexual abuse, there are some who oppose a longer time frame to file lawsuits.

An assemblywoman from Queens first sponsored a bill in 2006 that would allow child sexual abuse victims to file a civil lawsuit up to the age of 28. In addition, the bill would allow a one-year window in which a victim could file a lawsuit, regardless of how long it has been since the victim turned 28.

The bill has been supported by two of the men who have accused the former assistant coach of the Syracuse University men's basketball team, Bernie Fine, of molesting them when they were children. Now 39- and 49-years-old, the men are unable to hold Fine accountable for his actions under the current law. They and their attorney have both called for a reform of New York law in order for sex abuse victims to "seek justice."

A senator from Staten Island has also introduced legislation that is very similar to the assemblywoman's, the only bill in the Senate that looks to expand access for victims to the courts. While the senator and assemblywoman have not yet met to discuss their respective bills, the assemblywoman is hoping to meet soon and hopefully joint the two bills together.

Source: The Ithaca Journal, "Bernie Fine's accusers push for expanded N.Y. abuse laws," Jon Campbell, Feb. 28, 2012

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