Gov: Kid Vic Act will be in bud­get

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY KEN­NETH LOVETT

AL­BANY – Fi­nally, child vic­tims of pe­dophile priests, rab­bis and scout­mas­ters will be al­lowed to seek jus­tice.

Gov. Cuomo an­nounced Fri­day he will for the sec­ond year in a row in­clude lan­guage to cre­ate the Child Vic­tims Act in the state bud­get he will pro­pose on Tues­day.

But un­like last year, the Repub­li­cans are no longer in con­trol of the Se­nate to block the mea­sure, and the Democrats in each cham­ber have made the is­sue a top pri­or­ity.

“There has been a degra­da­tion of jus­tice for child­hood sex­ual as­sault sur­vivors who have suf­fered for decades by the au­thor­ity fig­ures they trusted most,” Cuomo said. “That ends this year with the en­act­ment of the Child Vic­tims Act to pro­vide sur­vivors with a long over­due path to jus­tice.”

Leg­isla­tive bill spon­sors, in­clud­ing in the Assem­bly, which passed sim­i­lar bills the past two years, say it could be taken up by the Leg­is­la­ture even be­fore the bud­get is fi­nal­ized in the spring.

“It’s not a mat­ter of if we pass the Child Vic­tims Act, it’s when we pass the Child Vic­tims Act, said Se­nate bill spon­sor Brad Hoyl­man (D-Man­hat­tan). “It’s pos­si­ble the Leg­is­la­ture could act be­fore the bud­get.”

Assem­bly bill spon­sor Linda Rosen­thal agrees, not­ing the bud­get isn’t due to be adopted un­til the end of March.

“The Assem­bly passed it twice, and I don’t see why we wouldn’t con­sider pass­ing it a third time,” Rosen­thal said.

Most sur­vivors and ad­vo­cates for the bill, who have been ag­gres­sively work­ing on the is­sue for more than a decade, were over­joyed that 2019 looks like the year their ef­forts will fi­nally pay off.

“It has been a long and dif­fi­cult 15 years as vic­tims have had to come for­ward to make this hap­pen, whether ready or not,” said Marci Hamil­ton, co-founder of New York­ers Against Hid­den Preda­tors.

The gov­er­nor’s bill, which hews closely to what the leg­isla­tive Democrats have pushed, would give child sex abuse vic­tims up to their 50th birth­day to bring a civil law­suit while the statute of lim­i­ta­tions to bring a felony case would in­crease to a per­son’s 28th birth­day, up from the cur­rent 23.

For mis­de­meanors, crim­i­nal charges would be able to be brought up to the vic­tim’s 25th birth­day, up two years from the cur­rent law.

The bill would also cre­ate cre­ate a one-year win­dow to re­vive old cases that are time­barred un­der cur­rent law, some­thing that was ve­he­mently op­posed by the Se­nate Repub­li­cans, the Catholic Church, Ortho­dox Jewish groups, the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.

And it would treat pub­lic and pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions the same. Cur­rently, vic­tims of child sex abuse must no­tify pub­lic en­ti­ties within 90 days of their in­ten­tion to sue. That time frame would be elim­i­nated.

The bill, if passed into law, “will shift the cost of the abuse from their shoul­ders to the ones who caused it, iden­tify the preda­tors hid­den in our midst, and fur­ther re­veal to the pub­lic the ways in which child abusers and en­abling in­sti­tu­tions en­dan­ger New York’s chil­dren,” Hamil­ton said.

AP Gov. Cuomo said his bud­get, for the sec­ond straight year, will in­clude lan­guage to pro­vide jus­tice for child sex-abuse vic­tims.

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