Advocates for victims of child sexual assault are urging lawmakers to pass the Child Victims Act, which would make it easier for survivors to file lawsuits, before the end of the legislative session next week.
“I know what it is to go through that and every day I still have to tell myself to be strong,” said Gary Greenberg, a survivor of child sexual assault.
The Greene County businessman founded Protect NY Kids, a PAC backing candidates who support legislation ending statutes of limitations on child sexual abuse cases. He supports a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases and create a one-year window for past victims to file civil suits.
At the Capitol Thursday, Senate Democrats held an event to rally support for the Child Victims Act.
“Without doing this bill, New York State is protecting predators,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan.
The Assembly approved it earlier this month. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put forward a bill that mirrors Assembly and Senate versions of the legislation.
“If he steps up and tells the Senate that this is our duty, it is our moral obligation, and then we get this bill passed into law,” said Rosenthal.
Currently, victims have until age 23 to sue, but supporters say it can take years before victims feel comfortable coming forward.
“There is no reason not to let this bill come to the floor,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins.
The bill faces opposition from institutions including the Catholic church. In a statement, the New York State Catholic Conference said it supports legislation extending time allowed to file charges, but called the bill “seriously flawed,” saying it would force institutions to defend alleged misconduct from decades ago they don’t know anything about, involving employees long retired or dead.
Supporters such as Gary Greenberg, however, are confident the bill will reach the Senate floor. If passed, he says it will allow victims to pursue the justice they deserve.
"Every hour there are five kids getting abused, so I would say to them, we are going to be your voice. You are going to get your day,” said Greenberg.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said the legislation is still being reviewed and gave no indication as to whether or not the bill would reach the Senate floor for a vote before next week’s legislative deadline.