Pressure mounts on Senate Republicans to pass Child Victims Act

Gazette photo by Matthew Apuzzo
Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal addresses reporters about the importance of protecting children from the horrors of child sexual abuse as well as giving victims a chance to hold their abusers accountable in a court of law. Gov. Cuomo introduced his own program bill Wednesday that is the same as Rosenthal’s, which passed the Assembly by 139-7 earlier this month.

Senate Democrats held a press conference Thursday urging Senate Republican Conference to get behind legislation to allow child sex abuse victims more time to take their abuser to court.

Advocates and legislators, including Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, sponsor of the Assembly Child Victims Act (A.5885-a) that passed by a telling bipartisan vote of 139-7 earlier this month, believe that this is the year the CVA makes it to the floor for a vote and, onto the governor’s desk.

“Protecting New York’s children against sexual abuse and rape and giving justice to those that have been harmed in the past is what our duty is as state legislators,” said Rosenthal. “There should be no question, it should not be up for debate.

“Without doing this bill, New York state is protecting predators.”

This most recent push comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday evening a program bill that is the same as the bills passed by Rosenthal in the Assembly and sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman in the Senate.

This could signal to the Senate Republicans that depriving victims of the look-back window they have pushed for, or the independent tribunal that determines validity of victim’s claims on a case by case basis, as offered in Sen. Jeff Klein’s compromise bill, are not what the governor considers the best option for New York’s childhood abuse victim’s.

“The Republican-led senate should not allow New York state to continue to protect predators,” said Rosenthal. “I believe if he [Gov. Cuomo] steps up and tells the Senate this is our duty, our moral obligation, the Senate will step up and we will get this bill passed.”

With the advocate groups, the Assembly and now the state’s chief executive all on board with the bills proposed by Rosenthal and Hoylman,D-Manhattan, the pressure is now on the Republican-led Senate to act.

“All that’s standing between justice and the victims of childhood sexual abuse is the governing Republican coalition,” said Hoylman. “Let us allow a vote of conscience on the Senate floor to count who is for providing long awaited justice for so many survivors.”

“New York has one of the most broken statute of limitations in the nation for child sexual abuse,” added Hoylman. “It’s time we fix it.”

Senator Hoylman also took heart from the Independent Democratic Conference’s willingness to act as an intermediary between the other two conferences and table a compromise bill that he described as “a negotiating position,” showing their willingness to take a public position on the issue of child sexual abuse.

While advocates are celebrating Gov. Cuomo coming out in support, they realize that passage of this bill, 11 years in the making, is now in the hands of the Republican controlled Senate.

“It has been one year since I founded Fighting for Children,” Gary Greenberg, Founder of Fighting for Children Public Action Committee, a PAC geared towards supporting politicians who support statute of limitations reforms stated.“The Governor heard our voices seeking justice, protecting kids and getting predators off our streets.”

“The New York Senate must now step up to the plate and allow a vote on the Senate floor,” said Nikki DuBose. “The people of New York deserve to know how their Senator stands on protecting our kids.” DuBose, former model, is a survivor and advocate as well as President of Peaceful Hearts foundation founded by Matt Sandusky.

The Senate CVA bill now sits in the Senate Rules Committee where it has been since April, when it was controversially moved from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Rules Committee without a vote.

The legislative session ends next Wednesday, June 21.