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!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • 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.