EDITORIAL: It’s time victims of adult sexual assault get justice

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Good legislation doesn’t always pass in the state Legislature, no matter how worthy the cause or how sympathetic the victims.

That’s been the case for years with the Adult Survivors Act, a bill similar to 2019’s Child Victims Act that gives survivors of adult sexual abuse an opportunity to be heard in civil court after the statute of limitations on the offenses has expired.

The bill (A0648/S006) would create a one-year “lookback window,” to give victims a year to bring cases to civil court.

Often, the statute of limitations on sex crimes expires before victims are able to address what happened to them or can bring themselves to come forward and identify their abusers.

Like with children, those victimized as adults can take many years to overcome their fears of coming forward, especially if the assailant was someone famous or powerful. Many fear they won’t be believed or that they will be shamed by their disclosure.

Before the state extended the statute of limitations for many sex crimes several years ago, the time for bringing cases forward was around five years.

That means any victims of sex crimes that occurred five years ago have only a couple of years left to bring their cases.

For victims of assaults that happened prior to five years ago, the one-year lookback window contained in this bill might be their only opportunity to seek justice.

The lookback window would cover crimes such as second- and third-degree rape, criminal sex acts and other incest offenses, and would apply to past cases in which victims’ claims were dismissed because they exceeded the statute of limitations.

In addition, the bill would establish special pre-trial preference for older cases to ensure they’re expedited.

Like the Child Victims Act, the bill would allow victims to bring civil suits against the institution where the assault took place, such as a workplace, school or church.

The bill, co-sponsored locally by Assembly members Phil Steck and Carrie Woerner and Sen. Michelle Hinchey, passed the Senate during the last legislative session but stalled in the Assembly as the leadership there pondered sexual assault legislation.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she supports action to reduce sexual harassment in the workplace and other measures, but she hasn’t taken a position on the Adult Survivors Act. She really needs to back it.

Two high-profile matters in the news recently, one involving the multiple allegations against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and another involving actor Chris Noth dating back many years, have inspired a new push to get the legislation passed this year.

It’s time to give adult victims of sexual assault the opportunity to be heard and to have the chance to seek the justice they deserve.

Lawmakers are back in session and should move quickly to vote this legislation into law.

The longer they wait, the longer the victims’ cries go unheeded.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

3 Comments
MARTIN SMITH January 14, 2022
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“Two high-profile matters in the news recently, one involving the multiple allegations against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and another…….”

Fascinating… I have never been a fan of Andrew Cuomo…….. but the Gazette’s preoccupation with this guy is pathological…..let him fade into oblivion or is that too much to ask.

Let’ see if you guys can last a week without mentioning ……but it seems like you need a Cuomo fix every few days….

niskyperson January 14, 2022
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Mask mandates are sexual assault. They force people to practice various BSDM fantasies of their political officials, without individual consent.

niskyperson January 14, 2022
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Mask mandates are sexual assault. They force people to practice various BSDM fantasies of their political officials.