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With Ink Not Yet Dry on the New York Child Victims Act, There Is Already Reason to Be Concerned About the Victims in this Process
Class actions are designed for circumstances where the victims have identical or nearly identical harm, or where such small monetary amounts are at stake that individual suits are implausible.
This cannot be permitted to happen to the sex abuse victims in New York, after 15 years of enormous effort to pass the Child Victims Act, who are supposed to be receiving a chance at full justice. The good news is that the class action lawsuit was filed in federal court where class actions must give victims a right to “opt out” of the lawsuit. So every victim will have the opportunity to think carefully about whether a “quickie” class action settlement is truly in her or his best interest.
The public policy problem, though, is that this is a great way for lawyers to benefit while survivors are once again made second-class participants in their own journey to justice. It’s bad enough they were victimized as children; and then they were re-victimized by insultingly short SOLs; but to be re-victimized after the CVA passes by not being taken individually and seriously in their own lawsuit constitutes the wrong result. It violates the spirit and the intent of the Child Victims Act so many labored so long to actualize.more
After Jessica Lynn Kanya attempted to sexually abuse a 14-year-old child, she was sentenced to 36 months in prison last March. But Lynn served none of that time behind bars when District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Hiram E. Puig-Lago decided to suspend her sentence.
Such leniency is common in Washington, D.C., RealClearInvestigations has found, because of the difficulty of making cases and the alternative to jail presented by the sex-offender registry. Since 2000, almost half of sex offenders convicted in the nation’s capital—the vast majority child-sex offenders—have had their sentences cut in half or suspended altogether. Judges do not comment on their rulings, but an analysis of the records of 364 D.C. offenders convicted since 2000 shows that such sentencing is a pervasive practice by more than a dozen judges, who are appointed and not elected.
Sentences are often suspended not just for crimes such as sexually touching a child, which carries jail time of 180 days. In dozens of cases, adult offenders facing years in prison received suspended sentences.
Although there is no national database recording the resolutions of alleged child-sex crimes, experts say Washington faces the same challenges in prosecuting such crimes as everywhere else. The reduced sentences reflect the difficulties and peculiarities of prosecuting crimes involving children and sex.more