Six state senators on Friday urged Gov. Cuomo to sign the bill into law.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Six Republican State senators on Friday called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to immediately sign a bill protecting the rights and well-being of sexual assault survivors.
The State Senate GOP majority included the Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights in their one-house budget resolution and then later passed a bipartisan bill with the Assembly in June. According to the six senators, the measure will better inform sexual assault survivors of their various rights to fair and sensitive treatment during the investigation of their crime. It also details the right of survivors to consult with and be accompanied by a victim assistance organization during physical exams and interrogations; receive preventive treatment for HIV; and be notified about the results of their sexual assault evidence kit and the status of their case.
The bill was unanimously passed by both chambers; however, legislative protocols require the Assembly to provide the bill to the governor for his signature, which has not yet been done.
“No one should ever have to suffer in silence. The Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights is a critical tool that we know will empower survivors and could potentially help take abusers off the streets,” said State Sen. Sue Serino (R-Hyde Park). “With everything going on today to help raise awareness and encourage victims to speak out, this bill should be signed into law as soon as possible and I encourage the governor to make it an immediate priority.”
Of the six GOP senators who urged Cuomo to sign the bill into law, only Serino and Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) survived Tuesday’s election.
Additionally, this week the New York Daily News exclusively reported that the Catholic Church “for the first time is saying it is open to looking at some type of provision that would allow child sex abuse victims who under current state law cannot seek justice to be able to do so.”
Democrats have long been fighting for the passage of the Child Victims Act, which would raise the criminal statute of limitations for several child sexual abuse crimes to age 28, and raise the civil statute of limitations for causes of action brought by someone seeking redress for physical, psychological or other injury caused by child sexual abuse to age 50. The legislation also would create a one-year window, starting six months from the effective date of the bill, for past victims of child sexual abuse to initiate lawsuits against their abusers, and create parity in how regulations impact public and private institutions under these circumstances.
“Whoever ends up controlling the [State] Senate, we would welcome discussions to resolve this issue in a way that is acceptable to survivors first, but also to religious and non-profit organizations who would be impacted,” Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the state Catholic Conference headed by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, told the News in a story published on Monday.
Democrats have regained control of the Legislature. In recent years, the CVA has passed the Assembly only to be blocked in the Upper Chamber. Cuomo has also come out in favor of the bill.