New York Child Sex Abuse in Schools and the Statute of Limitations


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In the past two years, there has been an influx of stories and arrests of various alleged child molesters and sex abusers. From Jerry Sandusky at Penn State and Syracuse’s Bernie Fine to the scandals at Horace Mann and Poly Prep in New York, sex abuse scandals involving students in schools is forcing the country to take a hard look at itself.

What was once “hush hush” and brushed under the rug of a school, is now very much in the open – a torch shining light into the darkness of child sex abuse. However, justice for victims is a long and difficult road. Sometimes, justice may come from a criminal or civil case, but many states’ statutes of limitations make that impossible.

New York Statute of Limitations in Criminal and Civil Child Sex Abuse Cases

In New York, the criminal statute of limitations is 5 years for felonies and 2 years for misdemeanors. The civil statute of limitations in New York is not much better and arguably worse than its criminal counterpart. Victims of child sex abuse have a mere 5 years after they turn 18 – age 23 – to file suit.

Compare this with Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations in both criminal and civil child sex abuse cases, and it seems like Pennsylvania is the more liberal state. In Pennsylvania, criminal cases of child sex abuse must be filed by the victim’s 50th birthday and the civil statute of limitations is the victim’s 30th birthday.

However, murder has no statute of limitations in both New York and Pennsylvania. As a former sex crimes unit prosecutor and now civil attorney, I believe that child rape is akin to murder. So banishing the criminal statute of limitations in cases of child rape is not only just, but could also help prevent such crimes. Doing so may make abusers less likely to commit such heinous acts.

Victims of child sex abuse suffer incredibly, both as young children and as adults. It is one of the most difficult things to come to terms with-abuse by a trusted adult, especially in a school setting, where a teacher, a sports coach or youth program instructor is the abuser.

It’s time this country makes some changes in favor of children, especially where child sex abuse is concerned. Child sex abuse has no place in any setting under any circumstances. From a legal standpoint, we can start by making changes to our statutes of limitations. Call your state legislators and tell them you support changes to the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases. A list of NY state senators can be found at

More School Sex Abuse Articles:

For more information, contact a school sex abuse lawyer.

LBK handles school sex abuse cases in the Northeast area with offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Attorneys at the firm are licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In addition, the firm has the resources and experience to handle school sex abuse cases in all states and welcomes calls from local counsel about potential cases. Click To Call

Published: August 3, 2012