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!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • 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.