Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Court Ruling about the Statute of Limitations in Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Momentum continues to build in the courts towards greater justice for sexual abuse survivors.
The latest court ruling about a child sexual abuse case involves Poly Prep Country Day School, an elite private school in Brooklyn, New York. According to articles on and, Judge Frederic Block of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled that the New York State statute of limitations on filing sexual abuse charges cannot be imposed automatically, because of the possibility that the school covered up abuse by a former football coach.

Poly Prep Country Day School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Todd Maisel/New York Daily News

Now there has to be a hearing to determine if the actions of the school prevented the 12 plaintiffs from filing charges within the statute of limitations, which is by age 23 for survivors of child sexual abuse in New York.

Twelve alumni of Poly Prep and its summer camp claim that they were raped and molested by Philip Foglietta, the former football coach. The coach worked at the school from 1966 until his retirement in 1991, then died in 1998. The court decision stated that the first time an allegation was made against the coach was in 1966, when a student told the headmaster that Philip Foglietta had abused him multiple times. The ruling went on to state that the school told the family that the student’s allegations were not credible and that the student would face “severe consequences” if he continued to make such accusations.

The plaintiffs claim that the school revered the coach and his legacy and depended on his reputation for fundraising, despite knowing that he had sexually abused boys entrusted to his care.

The New York Times article stated that:

The case is being closely watched, as allegations of sexual abuse and the way powerful institutions manage knowledge of those allegations has exploded within the Roman Catholic Church, in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn and in high-profile schools like Horace Mann in the Bronx and Penn State University.
The world is watching... and the courts are finally starting to get it right. The statute of limitations has shielded perpetrators of child sexual abuse and the institutions and communities that covered up for them from being held accountable for their crimes. It is about time that we get our priorities straight and put the protection of children ahead of the protection of reputations.

Should the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse prosecutions be eliminated entirely? Or should it only be waived in certain situations?  What do you think?