An Uncertain Future for the Adult Survivors Act

WSKG [Vestal NY]

July 12, 2021

By Darrell Camp

[Includes video with additional content, including statements by Senator Brad Hoylman and survivor Tom Andriola, further comments by survivor Marissa Hoechstetter, and the text of the proposed law.]

The Adult Survivors Act unanimously passed the New York State Senate during this year’s legislative session, but its future in the Assembly remains unclear.

New York’s legislative session ended nearly one month ago, but not without criticism from advocacy groups.

The Adult Survivors Act would create a one-year look back window for cases of adult sexual abuse. That’s similar to the Child Victims Act, legislation passed in 2019 targeted at victims of child sex abuse.

While the Senate passed the Adult Survivors Act unanimously, the Assembly didn’t bring it to the floor for a vote.

Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan who sponsors the bill, said that even she doesn’t completely understand why it wasn’t voted on.

“Some of it is mysterious to me as well,” Rosenthal said.

“I do know that some people said, well, it was too soon to consider that. They needed more time. Well, there will be more time, six months until we meet again in January, and I think then people will totally understand why the Adult Survivors Act is so important.”

Those who opposed passing the Adult Survivors Act in the Assembly haven’t made their position public, making it difficult to discern which lawmakers held the bill from a vote.

Survivors of sexual abuse are also unclear on the reasoning behind the inaction of the Assembly.

Marissa Hoechstetter is a survivor and advocate who was in Albany during the final days of the legislative session, pushing for the bill’s passage.

“If this Assembly does not get their act together and pass this common-sense legislation this session, now, while it has already passed the Senate, and has wide support, they are saying that they are okay with institutions enabling rape,” Hoechstetter said.

“There is no way to have a public reckoning for sexual assault without access to the courts.”

The Adult Survivors Act is one of several bills that stalled in the legislature last month. Others include the Clean Slate bill, a bill to end qualified immunity for law enforcement officers, and an extension of alcohol to-go.

It’s unclear if the Legislature will return before the regular session in January.