The Senate passed the Adult Survivors Act (S.66/A.648), sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. The legislation would create a one-year window for the revival of time-barred civil lawsuits based on sex crimes committed against individuals who were 18 years of age or older.
On Tuesday, April 26, 2022, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins joined Safe Horizon for a press event at the Million Dollar Staircase in the state Capitol in support of the Adult Survivors Act.
“When we passed the Child Victims Act in 2019, we righted a historical wrong by empowering survivors of childhood sexual abuse to hold their abusers and institutions that may have looked the other way accountable,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “Last year, we passed the Adult Survivors Act unanimously, because we understand that we cannot leave any survivor of sexual abuse behind.
“Adult survivors of sexual abuse deserve the chance to seek justice so they can start their journey towards healing,” Stewart-Cousins said.
The bill died in the state Assembly last session.
“All of us deserve a safe space in our homes, and workplaces,” Stewart-Cousins said. “We’re passing the bill again.”
Both the Child Victims Act of 2019 and the Adult Survivors Act are predicated on the belief that New York’s existing statutes of limitations were insufficient in giving abuse survivors enough time to pursue justice through criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit.
“Legislation to protect survivors must support how survivors process trauma: trauma takes time,” Hoylman said. “Until 2019, New York’s statute of limitations were prohibitively short for adult survivors. It’s a matter of restorative justice to give survivors whose abuse occurred before we changed the law their day in court.”
Liz Roberts, CEO of Safe Horizons, the largest victim services nonprofit organization in the United States, stressed the necessity of the ASA.
“The Adult Survivors Act must move forward, countless survivors do not receive justice,” Roberts said. “The ASA will give survivors the time back taken away from them by their abusers.”
Activist Donna Hylton spoke on her experience as a sexual assault survivor.
“At eight years old I was trafficked to this country. I was abused by the people I was supposed to call mom and dad,” said Hylton. “If I have to do this till I take my last breath, I’ll keep fighting.”
Marissa Hoechstetter, sexual assault survivor advocate, along with Evelyn Yang, wife of Andrew Yang, shared their stories of abuse and string endorsement of the bill.
“Give the bill a chance to pass, and you will be giving survivors the chance to heal,” Yang said.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously on the Senate floor, 62-0, on April 26. It currently resides in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
“I am grateful for the Senate, now the Assembly must follow suit,” said Hoeschstetter.