Over 23? Too Late to Testify

In New York and some other states, revoking a doctor’s license to practice medicine is a matter of administrative law, not criminal law. If it seems likely that said doctor has com- mitted a crime, the case then routinely gets referred to the appropriate district attorney, which indeed happened in the case of Dr. Copperman. But the D.A. didn’t go a er him, because, presum- ably, there was no point: New York’s statute of limitations—with a cut-o age of 23—posed an impossible hurdle. After the doctor, then 65, lost his license in 2000, he simply packed up and retired to a Florida condo.

So far, the law has seemed difficult to change. Since 2006, legislation has been continually introduced to extend the statue of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse. Stonewalling and lobbying by groups including the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America has stymied its progress.

The bill proposed in the 2018 legislative session included a one- year “look-back” window to allow survivors older than 23 to le civil suits against their alleged abusers, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place. The window so alarmed the Catholic Church that New York Cardinal Dolan made a special trip to Albany to lobby against it. The bill was quashed once more.

The current statute is a major obstacle in bringing certain sexual predators to justice in New York State, Nassau County Assistant D.A. Silvia Pastor Finkelstein said. In a recent telephone conversation with Lilith, Robin Sosin said that during the six months of the 2018 New York State legislative session, she telephoned the o ce of Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan three times to ask whether he was supporting the Child Victims Bill, which so far the conservative Republican was refusing to release from committee for debate on the Senate floor.

Flanagan’s assistant always responded, “He’s working on it.” A er the third time she heard that answer, Sosin says she lost her patience. “Do you want to know what Dr. Copperman did to me when I was his patient?” she asked.

The aide, clearly rattled, respond- ed: “You don’t have to tell me.” But Sosin would have none of it. “He’d rub my clitoris for 10 minutes.” It’s details like this that lawmakers don’t want to know.