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

(page 2 of 2)

Cuomo’s office did not respond to repeated calls for comment regarding the governor’s position on the bill. But Marci Hamilton, a professor at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, said it is noteworthy that Cuomo has not come out against the bill, given the Catholic Church’s opposition to it. “We don’t have a statement from his office either way yet, which is promising,” she said.

Markey’s bill isn’t the only proposed legislation dealing with the statute of limitations in the assembly this session. Dov Hikind, a Democratic assemblyman who represents the ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood of Boro Park, has presented a rival bill that has many of the same components — but there’s one major difference: Hikind’s bill would extend the statute of limitations for victims to file suit against alleged sex abusers, but not against the schools and religious institutions that have, in some cases, protected them.

“The concern is about institutions,” Hikind said. “Yeshivas are hardly surviving financially. You would put them out of business.”

But Hamilton disagrees. In states that have extended the statute of limitations — such as California, Delaware, and Minnesota — institutions sued for protecting sex abusers don’t go bankrupt, she said, but rather pay out victims through their insurance or by liquidating old buildings and empty lots. If sex abuse victims were only able to sue individuals, she added, their restitution would be limited to their perpetrator’s sometimes meager assets.

Hikind’s legislative liaison, Holly Charlesworth, responded that suits are “about the justice” of the victims’ cases more than the money.

Hikind, who has positioned himself as an advocate for sex abuse victims in the Orthodox community, is listed as a co-sponsor on the Markey bill. But he said that he would not endorse the bill if it came to a vote in the assembly.

“I don’t think the Markey bill is going to go anywhere,” he said.

Hikind said that his bill —which he characterized as a politically palatable alternative to Markey’s — was drafted with the input of Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox umbrella group that has declared that observant Jews must get the permission of a rabbi in order to report sex crimes to secular authorities. Agudath executive vice president David Zwiebel could not be reached for comment before deadline. But in a 2009 interview he conducted with the Orthodox magazine Mishpacha, Zwiebel said that he supported a bill that targeted individuals, not institutions.

“We have no objection to expanding the statute of limitations, or even instituting a window of suspension of the statute of limitations, regarding bringing action against abusers,” Zwiebel said in the interview. “Our only objection is including institutions.”

Hamilton said that Hikind’s proposal would do little to help victims of sex abuse. “The problem is that the bill is still protecting the organizations and the powerful men in those organizations that are creating a lot of the problems,” she said. “So long as the legislators continue to defer to the men in power that are covering up the abuse of children, we are going to have serious problems.”

Hamilton said that the increased press coverage of sex abuse in the Orthodox world has shown the public that the Catholic Church isn’t the only institution to cover up sex abuse. Since The New York Times published its report, the issue has received substantial airtime in the national and New York media. Most recently, Mayor Michael Bloomberg lambasted Hynes for not countering Agudath’s position that victims of sex abuse should obtain the permission of a rabbi before reporting to secular authorities.

“Any abuse allegations should be brought to law enforcement, who are trained to assess their accuracy and act appropriately,” Marc La Vorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, told the Times.

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at zeveloff@forward.com or on Twitter @NaomiZeveloff


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!
  • 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
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • 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.