Over the last couple of days I’ve noticed Jewish bloggers getting the word out on this petition. Lostmessiah and theunorthodoxjew each link to what appears to be the latest part in this uphill battle to eliminate the Statute of Limitations for child victims of sex abuse. At the time of this post, the petition has 659 of 800 signatures.
To: New York State Senate, Assembly, and Governor — New York State Must Stop Failing Victims of Child Sex Abuse – Campaign created by Ari Hart
New York State’s laws protecting survivors of child sex abuse are broken. The New York State Legislature must eliminate the Statute of Limitations for child victims of sex abuse, enable those who were denied justice the chance to pursue it, and thereby help get abusers off the streets.
Why is this important?
Jennie’s life changed when her coach began molesting her at age 15, trauma that has impacted every area of her life. But like so many victims of child sex abuse, it wasn’t until many years later, when she was 25, that she understood what had happened to her. Under New York State law, the window for pursuing legal action for child sex abuse is only 5 years after one turns 18. Not only can Jennie not pursue justice; her abuser remains on the streets.
New York State ranks alongside Alabama, Michigan and Mississippi, as among the worst states in the U.S. in how its courts and criminal justice system treat survivors of child sex abuse.
Shockingly, victims brave enough to come forward to seek justice and stop abusers from causing more harm, are blocked by New York State law because current state law allows survivors to pursue criminal or civil justice for a maximum of just five years after they turn age 18. But mental health experts know it can take decades for a victim of child sexual abuse to overcome the fear, shame, and trauma before they are able to come forward to confront their abuser. Perpetrators can continue to abuse if not stopped.
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. It’s now time to be a part of the solution.
Please join us in urging New York to join states like California, Delaware, Minnesota, Hawaii, Illinois and Florida that have recently passed legislation extending or eliminating the statute of limitations and creating windows for survivors to come forward. This legislation will no doubt bring justice and importantly, prevent further abuse. When similar legislation was passed in California, over 300 previously unknown abusers were identified.
Reforming NY State’s Statute of Limitations makes all our children safer and we urge you to join us today as we prepare to take this issue to Albany.
How it will be delivered
Right now legislators in Albany are debating the 2017 Child Victim’s Act which will repeal the Statute of Limitations for civil and criminal cases and create an opportunity for victims who were denied justice to pursue it. We urge you to sign our petition today. We will deliver the signatures to the Governor, State Assembly and State Senate to encourage them to pass the Child Victim’s Act.
From the Huffington Post bio page for Rabbi Ari Hart:
Rabbi Ari Hart is an orthodox rabbi and the leader of multiple initiatives that bring the Jewish community and the world together to create positive social change. He currently serves as Associate Rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Rabbi Hart is also a co-founder and Executive Board Member of Uri L’Tzedek (Awaken to Justice): The Orthodox Social Justice Movement, co-founder of the Jewish Muslim Volunteer Alliance, and was the founding director of Or Tzedek, the teen institute for Jewish social justice. He has contributed to the Jerusalem Post, NY Daily News, Shma Magazine, Haaretz, the Jewish Daily Forward, the Huffington Post, and other publications, and was recently selected by the Jewish Week as one of the 36 “forward-thinking young people who are helping to remake the Jewish community.” Rabbi Hart received his ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York City.