New York May Ease Statute of Limitations for Decades-Old Child Sex Abuse Claims

Bill Would Ease Path to Court for Yeshiva U. Victims


By Paul Berger

Published March 07, 2013, issue of March 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 4)

Arkansas eliminated the criminal statute of limitations for sexual abuse in February. Meanwhile, bills are pending in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California, among other states, that would extend or eliminate the statute of limitations in criminal or civil cases. Some of these include so-called window legislation. A bill that would eliminate the civil statute of limitations is expected to be introduced in the New Jersey legislature soon.

“This is the most activity ever,” said Marci Hamilton, chair of public law at Y.U.’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and one of the nation’s leading advocates for ending the statute of limitations on abuse crimes. Hamilton said that increased publicity about child abuse and about the legal hurdles that victims face as adults when they try to file complaints has garnered enormous support. “So many victims never get justice,” Hamilton said, noting that it “really moved legislators to consider enacting these kinds of laws.”

Hamilton is among more than a dozen specialists who will testify at a public hearing being held by the New York State Assembly’s Codes Committee, in Manhattan, on March 8. Prosecutors, lawyers and advocates who have experience in child sexual abuse cases are also expected to appear. They include individuals who were involved with recent abuse scandals in institutions such as New York’s Poly Prep Country Day School and the Horace Mann School.

Hamilton is one of two Y.U. employees who will appear at the hearing. Since December of last year, more than 20 former students who attended the university’s Manhattan high school for boys have told the Forward that they were abused by two of the school’s staff members over a period ranging from the late 1970s to the early ’90s. Several said that they or their families alerted Y.U. officials but got no response. Y.U. has commissioned a prominent law firm to conduct an investigation into the allegations.

Neither Hamilton nor Rabbi Yosef Blau, the other Y.U. staff member who will speak at the public hearing, said they would deliver testimony directly related to — or defending — Y.U. Nevertheless, Hamilton, the author of a recent book calling for the abolition of the statute of limitations, said she had made her position clear to her employers.

“The cover-up of child sex abuse in any institution is a cancer,” Hamilton said. “And unless you cut it out and get the authorities involved, and make good for all that you did wrong, it will haunt you. And so it’s better for my institution that they be made accountable and they are accountable than to let it fester.” Blau said he intended to testify about his personal experiences dealing with abuse that occurred decades ago.

Blau was one of three rabbis who served on a religious court that, during the late 1980s, largely absolved an Orthodox Union youth leader, Baruch Lanner, of abuse allegations. Blau said the rabbis set a limit of 10 years from any incident for victims to testify against Lanner, which prevented many people from coming forward. Lanner was allowed to continue working with children and was convicted, in 2002, of sexually abusing two girls.


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!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • 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.