As Legislative Term Draws to an End, Governor Cuomo Offers His Own Child Victims Act Bill

Albany With a little less than a week before the New York state legislative session draws to a close, Governor Andrew Cuomo has sent his own version of the Child Victims Act to the legislature.  The last minute maneuver had been anticipated by advocacy groups but nevertheless caught some observers in Albany by surprise as the action was lauded by child abuse prevention advocates.

“This is about justice and I urge this measure to be passed before the end of session and allow these victims the ability to hold their abusers accountable — something they’ve wrongly been denied for far too long,” Cuomo said.

“I applaud Governor Cuomo’s strong leadership and his commitment to justice and the safety of children,” said Kathryn Robb, who was one of the survivors and advocates who have been working with the governor’s staff in recent months. “He is, to my mind, the justice governor.”

Assembly Child Victims Act sponsor Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) called Cuomo’s decision to back her bill “wonderful news.”

“It’s the kind of leadership we’ve been asking for and looking for,” Rosenthal said. “Now it’s up to the Senate to pass this bill and give relief and access to justice for survivors.”

Cuomo’s foray into the issue has put increased pressure on Senate Republicans who’ve made it an annual ritual to block such legislation.  It is widely believed that they are doing the bidding of powerful lobbying interests in Albany such as the New York State Catholic Conference and its bishops who have criticized the legislation.

The Cuomo and Assembly bills would allow survivors to bring civil cases up until their 50th birthdays and felony criminal cases until their 28th birthdays. Currently, they have until their 23rd birthdays to bring such cases.

The bills also include a one-year window to revive old cases and treats public and private institutions the same. Currently, those abused in a public setting like a school have just 90 days from the incident occurring to formally file an intent to sue.

Survivors in New York have had their hopes dashed for years waiting for their elected officials to do the right thing and support sex abuse victims.  Perhaps this year will be different.  Time will tell.

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, California, and other states.

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