ALBANY — Despite a recent flurry of new legislation designed to help adults who were sexually abused as kids, the chances of a law being enacted this year remain a long-shot.
The fate of the Child Victims Act continues to rest with the state Senate Republicans, who for years have blocked the issue and so far have shown little interest in getting it done this year.
“We’re reviving the issue,” said Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif. “There are a lot of Child Victims Act bills out there.”
But Kathryn Robb, a child sex abuse survivor and advocate said that “it’s time for the Senate GOP to step up and get in line with the leadership of Assembly and Dems in the Senate.”
Robb said it’s up to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote.
“He can stand on the side of justice and the safety of kids, or continue (to) align himself with protecting sexual predators and institutions that hide them,” Robb said. “His leadership on this issue will be a defining moment in his political career — lead victims to justice and kids to safety, or obstruct them.”
The Assembly and Senate Democrats and a breakaway group of Senate Dems have all introduced their own versions of the Child Victims Act. And Gov. Cuomo is expected to follow suit soon.
The Assembly expects to pass its bill, which has the support of many of the child sex abuse survivors who have been advocating on the issue, this week. It is scheduled to clear committee on Tuesday and could be voted on as soon as Wednesday, which would be the first time since 2008 that the chamber took up a Child Victims Act bill.
“They have to look themselves in the mirror every day,” Assembly bill sponsor Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) said of the Senate Republicans. “It takes two houses to pass this bill into law. The Senate has to move on it.”
Rosenthal’s bill would allow victims abused as kids to bring civil lawsuits up to their 50th birthday. Under current law, they have until their 23rd birthday.
It would also allow criminal cases to be brought until a victim’s 28th birthday if it’s a felony or 25 if it’s a misdemeanor — an extension of five years for both.
The bill includes a one-year window to revive old cases that can no longer be brought under current law and it would treat public and private institutions the same when it comes to sex abuse cases. Currently, someone abused at a public institution must notify of an intent to sue 90 days from the incident occurring.
Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) introduced a similar bill, with the big difference being he would do away with the statute of limitation entirely on criminal child sex abuse cases.
But Hoylman on Monday also introduced the Assembly version in hopes that the advocate support can convince the GOP to bring it to the floor.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who leads a breakaway group of eight Senate Democrats, told the Daily News on Sunday he will introduce a compromise bill that does everything Hoylman’s original bill does, with one significant change.
Recognizing the biggest roadblock to the passage of a bill has long been the push to create a one-year window to review old cases that can no longer be brought under current law, Klein’s bill would create a Child Victims Commission to examine, evaluate and make binding recommendations on time-barred civil claims within a one-year window to determine if they could move forward.
Klein’s proposal has the support of some advocates, including Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor and sexual abuse survivor.
But a number of other survivors oppose it. So does the Catholic Church.
Cuomo’s team has been telling advocates for weeks he is preparing his own bill. But to date, he has yet to introduce one.
Regardless, the biggest hold up remains in the state Senate.
A small group of advocates on Monday afternoon delivered an electronic petition to Flanagan’s state Capitol office. They said they tried to arrange a meeting with Flanagan but were rebuffed.
Andrew Willis and Melanie Blow, both of the Stop Abuse campaign, Greenberg and survivor Harold Siering urged the Flanagan staffer who accepted the flashdrive petition to send a message to the majority leader to allow the issue to the floor for an up or down vote.
“It’s of the utmost importance that this issue be allowed to come up for a vote this year,” Greenberg told the Flanagan aide.