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Effort to eliminate statute of limitations on child sex abuse to continue

WBFO News file photo

New York State Senator Tim Kennedy of Buffalo was visibly emotional about it, talking with reporters. By a vote of 30-29, the state Senate this week rejected an attempt to force a vote on legislation aimed at eliminating the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse charges. However, the Buffalo Democrat vowed "this is not the end of the conversation."

"We believe any time that an individual comes up with the courage to go after their perpetrator that abused them in any way, including and especially sexually as a child, they should have the recourse and the legal ability to go after these perpetrators, these monsters," Kennedy said, "hold them accountable, put them in jail." 

Kennedy, a Catholic, said he feels very strongly about the issue and vowed to continue the Child Victims Act he co-sponsored, which would allow adults to pursue criminal or civil child sex abuse charges at any age. "This is the right legislation at the right time," Kennedy said.

"This is about holding those abusers, those perpetrators of this despicable, despicable abuse accountable, giving them jail time and giving closure to these victims and allowing these victims to have some recourse at the end of the day," Kennedy said.  

Current law requires charges be brought before a person reaches the age of 23. A child abused in a public institution, like a school, must bring charges within 90 days of an incident.

Governor Cuomo also has vowed to pass the Child Victims Act before the end of this legislative session.

Senate Republicans spokesman Scott Reif said the vote blocking the measure was not a vote against the issue itself, but the Democrats' method of pushing for a vote.

Democrats tried to pass an intermediate measure that would give victims a one-year window to file lawsuits over past sexual abuse, no matter how long ago the incident occurred. Going forward, the bill would have eliminated the time restrictions. It also would have allowed lawsuits be filed against individuals, their employers and institutions, both public and private.

"The Senate Democrats have engaged in an unfortunate political stunt at a time when wee are attempting to have an honest and serious discussion about this issue," Reif said. "While we are currently reviewing a number of bills on the topic, it's clear that the members of the Senate Republican Conference will continue to work extraordinarily hard to protect the victims of sexual assault."