BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With the Democrats set to take control of the State Senate, there's a renewed push by lawmakers to pass the Child Victims Act in Albany. It would make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice as adults.
The Assembly has passed the Child Victims Act year after year, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says it'll be a priority next session. But, Republicans in the Senate have kept it stuck in committee. State Senator Tim Kennedy says that won't be the case next year.
"I have full confidence that the Child Victims Act will be passed," says Kennedy.
Kennedy is a long-time supporter of the bill which would extend the statute of limitations to allow victims to pursue criminal charges against their alleged abuser up until the accuser is 28 years old.
"Scientific data shows that victims of childhood sexual abuse oftentimes take 21 years or more to recognize that they were abused as children, and so when the statute of limitations runs out in the State of New York at the age of 23, it denies justice for those victims and survivors," says Kennedy.
A controversial part of the bill is the look-back window. It would give a one-year window for anyone to bring a lawsuit even if their statute of limitations passed. Kennedy supports it.
"By extending that statute of limitations, and opening up the system to allow for these cases to be heard with that one-year look back window, it'll ensure that we are holding those abusers accountable," he says.
But, it's something Bishop Malone has lobbied against in Albany. Monday, our Steve Brown asked the Bishop what a look-back window could mean for the Diocese.
"Doesn't that mean bankruptcy is more likely if this happens?" asked Brown.
"I wouldn't be able to predict it because we don't know, you know, how many people will be satisfied with the claims that are coming now. And, the next question probably is did we put the Child Victims, did we put in the IRCP program to try to get ahead of the Child Victims Act and the answer is, no," said Malone.
The IRCP is the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program established by the diocese in March for people to file claims of abuse.
The Child Victims Act would extend the statute of limitations to the age of 50 to file a civil lawsuit.