Monday, April 27, 2009

Abuse - Opposition to window of Markey Bill

The Jewish social service organization Ohel has decided it will oppose legislation that would allow victims of childhood sexual abuse currently beyond the statute of limitations to bring their cases to court. Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah, its affiliated educational arm have announced their opposition to the open-window provision under consideration in Albany.

Ohel CEO David Mandel declined to confirm Ohel’s position, which was described to The Jewish Star by a source close to the organization.

“It is simply not a matter of a yes or no issue of supporting the Markey bill or the Lopez bill as one can be supportive of major portions of legislation without supporting it in its entirety, and at the same time remain true to their convictions,” Mandel said.

Mandel was referring to legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Queens) that would extend the civil statute of limitations by five years as well as open a year-long window to bring civil cases that currently are beyond the statute. A competing bill sponsored by Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) would extend the civil statute of limitations by two years but does not include the yearlong window.

In a statement released Tuesday, Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, indicated that they would “have no objection to legislation designed to give victims of abuse greater recourse against perpetrators.”

However, Agudah and Torah Umesorah “vigorously oppose” legislation that would do away with the statute of limitations, even temporarily for a year, since that “could subject schools and other vital institutions to ancient claims and capricious litigation, and place their very existence in severe jeopardy.”

Agudah acknowledges a conflict of interest related to a lawsuit against Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn, and Yehuda Kolko, a longtime rebbe there. The suit lists an Agudah-owned summer camp for boys, Camp Agudah, Inc., as a defendant. The suit was filed in Brooklyn Federal Court in 2006. It alleges that Kolko molested David Framowitz, identified in the suit as John Doe No. 1, while he attended Camp Agudah in the summer between his seventh and eighth grade years. [...]

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