ALBANY, N.Y. — If you can call it luck, then Kat Sullivan is one of the "lucky" ones.
Sullivan is a rape survivor, which means in New York State she can seek criminal prosecution against her attacker whenever she pleases — even 20 years after the rape, which happened in 1998 on the campus of the Emma Willard School in Troy, where Sullivan attended as a student athlete.
But potentially, hundreds of teenage girls who attended Emma Willard School, like Sullivan did, were the victims of sexual abuse. Such abuse is considered different from forcible rape under the state's legal definition. Because of a statute of limitations preventing legal action after five years have passed, those hundreds of girls cannot report the crimes against them with any hope of confronting their attackers.
Children who are victimized younger than the age of 13 can report sex abuse at any time for the rest of their lives, leaving only minors between the ages of 13 and 18 as those who must tell authorities within five years.
"Due process should be available to anyone who's been the victim of a crime," said Sullivan, who went public with her story in 2016. "If you don't allow the proof to be provided, then there's a failure of the system."
Sullivan, who has since moved to Orlando, Fla., was back in the Capital Region on Tuesday, lobbying lawmakers to fix the loophole in the law. She spoke in support of the Child Victims Act, a bill before the State Senate which would remove the five-year statute of limitations on reporting sex abuse against teenagers. The law has passed the Assembly several times, but languished in the Senate.
This year, Governor Andrew Cuomo made the bill a priority in his State of the State address; the Senate's Republican majority promptly sent the bill to its Rules Committee, which has discretion whether to move the Child Victims Act to a vote.
So far, there is no indication a vote will happen before the legislative session ends in June.
Senator Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, ripped into his GOP counterparts on Tuesday.
"This is insanity!" he said of the Rules Committee process. "Every New Yorker deserves to know where their senator stands on this pressing issue."
For Sullivan, the effect of a delayed vote is clear.
"The damage of the current laws is seen in the absolute destruction of children's lives," she said.