The uncertain fate of the bill to give survivors of abuse a chance to prosecute
ALBANY (AP) – The fate of a bill to give those who have been sexually abused as adults a chance to prosecute perpetrators was unclear on Thursday when it was passed unanimously by the State Senate without the public support of the main leaders of the Assembly.
The Senate passed the bill Thursday by 62 to 0 votes, echoing the unanimous passage by the chamber in 2019 of a similar bill for survivors of child abuse.
“The government has a responsibility to stand up for the survivors of these crimes,” Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, tweeted. “I am proud that we are taking this next step in delivering equal justice to those who were 18 years of age or older when these crimes were committed. “
The office of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did not respond to repeated requests from The Associated Press for comment on the Adult Survivor Act.
The bill’s assembly sponsor Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat, said she will continue to push for the chamber to pass the bill before the Legislature concludes its session next week.
“I continue to defend him and try to get him out of the judicial committee,” Rosenthal said. “This is what I will continue to do until the end of the session.
The legislation would give survivors of abuse a one-year time limit to bring lawsuits that would otherwise be prohibited by the state’s statute of limitations.
Susan Dooha, executive director of the Center for the Independence of People with Disabilities, said the bill gives people more time to deal with abuse and overcome fears of coming forward.
“People with disabilities have been abused by doctors or therapists,” Dooha said in a statement. “They remained silent because they needed treatment and had a limited number of practitioners available to them.”
Supporters said they had heard no organized opposition to the bill.
“There may be some working behind the scenes, but I haven’t spoken to any institution, lobbyist or person working against this,” Rosenthal said.
This contrasts with the Child Victims Act, which was passed after years of resistance from the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, and insurance companies.
According to Rosenthal and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Hoylman, more than 5,200 New Yorkers have sued abusers under the Child Victims Act.
It is not known how many of these lawsuits ended in favor of the victims.