Manhattan DA Cy Vance joining fight to enact law allowing child sex abuse victims to seek justice
By Kenneth Lovett
New York Daily News
January 2, 2018
|Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will urge the governor to include the Child Victims Act in his state budget on Tuesday. |
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
ALBANY — Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is joining the fight to enact a long-sought after bill to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice.
Vance will join a group of survivors and other advocates in front of the Fearless Girl statue in Manhattan on Tuesday to call on Gov. Cuomo to include the bill to extend the timeframe that a victim has to bring a civil or criminal case in his proposed state budget. It’s due to be unveiled later in the month.
“This bill reflects what we know about child sexual assault today: it can take a long time for someone to be ready to report it to law enforcement, and this delay is common, it is understandable, and it should not bar a survivor from seeking justice,” Vance said.
The DA, who credited Cuomo for supporting the Child Victims Act in previous years, said the bill would “enable our prosecutors to hold more abusers accountable, and get justice for more survivors.”
While the state District Attorney's Association last year supported only the part of the bill dealing specifically with extending the criminal statute of limitation on child sex abuse crimes, Vance “will join advocates in asking for the entire bill to be included in the 2018 proposed budget,” his spokeswoman said.
With the state new legislative session set to begin on Wednesday, survivor Bridie Farrell, Michael Polenberg, of Safe Horizon, and bill sponsors Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and Sen. Brad Hoylman, both Manhattan Democrats, hope the current spotlight on sexual assault resulting from the #MeToo movement will help the bill's chance of passage after a dozen unsuccessful years.
“We survivors have been raising our voice for decades — and it's time for Albany to listen to our pain, stories, and resiliency and to protect the most vulnerable among us: children,” Farrell said. “Gov. Cuomo, we are demanding you include the Child Victims Act in your 2018 budget to make New York a safer, more just place for survivors of child sex abuse.”
Hoylman added: “By including the Child Victims Act in the state budget we can turn moment into movement and secure true justice for survivors.”
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi Monday wouldn't reveal whether the governor plans to highlight the issue in his State of the State speech and if it will be included in his 2018-19 budget proposal.
He previously said that “It is outrageous that as a result of arcane laws, these victims have been denied their day in court. We are working with the advocates to determine the most effective way to achieve these much needed reforms.”
The Assembly has passed a version of the Child Victims Act several times, including in 2017, which was the first time since 2008. But the bill has died in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The bill passed last year by the Assembly, and supported by Cuomo, 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.
Religious groups like the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish community oppose the provision that would open a window to revive old cases.
The state Catholic Conference headed by Timothy Cardinal Dolan supports doing away with the criminal statute of limitation on child sex abuse cases, lengthening the time frame going forward for when a victim can bring a civil case, and treating public and private institutions the same.