State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, seen at a Child Victims Act rally on Jan. 4, has proposed new legislation for young people who suffer sex abuse to seek justice.
ALBANY — The state Assembly has introduced a bill designed to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek legal recourse, though it does not go nearly as far as some survivors want.
Under the bill, introduced late last week by new sponsor State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a criminal case could be brought up to a victim’s 28th birthday. Under current law, the five-year statute of limitation for a child sex abuse survivor starts at 18 and runs through a person’s 23rd birthday.
Rosenthal’s bill would also start the statute of limitation for a victim to bring a civil lawsuit at the person’s 50th birthday and would treat public institutions the same as private entities when it comes to sexual abuse cases.
Under current law, a child who is sexually abused at a school or other public institution has to inform of his or her intent to sue within 90 days of the incident occurring.
The Assembly bill would also create a window giving victims who can no longer sue under current law six months to bring cases.
The provisions of Rosenthal’s bill fall short of one proposed in the Senate by Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and of what Gov. Cuomo said he will push.
Hoylman and Cuomo want to eliminate entirely the legal timeframe to bring a criminal child sex abuse case. Hoylman would also do away with the statute of limitation to bring civil cases while Cuomo would give people 50 years from the time they were abused.
Michael Polenberg of Safe Horizon with child sex abuse survivors Stephen Jimenez, Christopher Anderson, Ana Wagner, Kathryn Robb and Dorothy Robb Farrell after meeting Gov. Cuomo to discuss the Child Victims Act in May.
The two would also enact a one-year window for those currently barred from bringing cases to do so instead of the six months Rosenthal’s bill would provide. Like Rosenthal’s bill, Cuomo and Hoylman also would treat public and private institutions the same as relating to sex abuse cases.
Sexual abuse survivors don’t believe Rosenthal’s bill goes far enough.
"I’m not supporting that bill, that’s for sure," said Gary Greenberg, a survivor who created a political action committee to fight for passage of the Child Victims Act. "I’ll wait for the governor to submit his bill. I anticipate that will be a strong bill and I’ll support that. I’m with the governor on this."
Sexual abuse survivor and advocate Kathryn Robb was pleased the Assembly is open to the issue, but agreed the bill isn’t strong enough.
"It is a positive step, but justice is miles away and children remain in harm’s way," she said.
She called Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie a man of integrity, but urged him and others in Albany to "spend time getting to know the real issues around sexual abuse of children and step away from their unknowing allegiance to sexual predators and finally stand on the side of justice.
Brad Hoylman on Jan. 4. (Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News)
"We hope they can make this a more meaningful bill for victims and children," Robb added.
Rosenthal called her bill, which has 35 co-sponsors and is similar to one introduced last year in the Assembly, "our starting-off point."
"As with all bills, it’s subject to input from the stakeholders," she said.
This is the first year Rosenthal is leading the issue in the Assembly. Longtime sponsor Margaret Markey lost her Democratic primary last year.
Rosenthal said she’s already getting input from advocates about their most important needs for any final bill "to ensure those harmed in the past are able to gain a measure of justice."
The Senate Republican majority, which has blocked previous versions of the Child Victims Act from coming to the floor for a vote, also remains a big obstacle.
This article was sourced from http://knewsfeed.com