Abuse Headlines Gives Push to Tough Laws

Dueling Measures Scrap Statute of Limitations for Pedophilia

Protect Yeshivas? Brooklyn lawmaker Dov Hikind introduced a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse while protecting Jewish institutions from possible lawsuits. Critics say he is shielding those who shielded the abusers.
getty images
Protect Yeshivas? Brooklyn lawmaker Dov Hikind introduced a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse while protecting Jewish institutions from possible lawsuits. Critics say he is shielding those who shielded the abusers.

By Naomi Zeveloff

Published May 17, 2012, issue of May 25, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Heightened media exposure of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox communities may breathe new life into a stymied proposal to extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases in New York State, the proposal’s proponents say.

Sex abuse victims and their advocates hope that a flurry of high-profile news stories in The New York Times and beyond, highlighting community intimidation and a code of silence around sex crimes in the Orthodox world, will pressure the governor to revive a bill that has languished for years in New York State’s legislature.

The bill, proposed by Democratic New York Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, would extend the statute of limitations for an additional five years, allowing childhood victims to file complaints until age 28. The proposed legislation would also eliminate the restriction completely for one year after its passage, allowing victims to file suit who were harmed decades ago but who are blocked by the current statute of limitations.

The recent media storm has focused on the refusal by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes to disclose the names of Orthodox individuals charged with sex abuse, as reported by the Forward earlier in May. Advocates say a change in the D.A.’s policies is essential. But on the civil law front, they say, passage of the Markey bill could forever change the dynamic that they say now prevents victims of abuse from coming forward with their complaints.

“If the Markey bill passes, then the victims would be able to stand up to the incredible pressure and intimidation of the entire leadership,” said Ben Hirsch, president of Survivors for Justice, an organization that advocates on behalf of child sex abuse victims in the ultra-Orthodox community.

The recent media exposure has helped to “move this issue forward,” said Hirsch. “The question we have is why the deafening silence from the governor’s office? It is time for the governor’s office, the attorney general and the legislators to put children’s lives ahead of political exigency.”

Markey first introduced the bill in 2005. Since then, it has passed through the state assembly on four different occasions, only to languish in the Senate each time. Over the years, the bill has faced fierce opposition from Catholic and Orthodox Jewish groups that adamantly oppose its one-year window to revisit expired sex crimes. This stipulation, they say, would result in a flood of lawsuits that could bankrupt religious schools and houses of worship.

In an interview, Markey said that religious opposition to the bill has deterred lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Senate from co-sponsoring it. Rather than seek out a co-sponsor this session, she is now appealing to the governor directly. Two weeks ago, she met with the governor’s legal counsel, and she has requested an appointment with Andrew Cuomo’s secretary to plead her case.

“I would like to see the governor step up to the plate and make this one of his program bills,” she said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.