Both the Senate and the Assembly sponsors of the Adults Survivors Act tell Capital Tonight they will push for passage of the legislation before the end of session in June.
The bill, which is based on the Child Victims Act, would create a one-year legal look-back window during which people who were 18 years of age or older when they were abused could file civil lawsuits against their abusers. The look back window would open 6 months after the bill is signed into law.
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal explained why adults need their own law.
"They didn't take advantage [of the law] because of the trauma and denial, all the things that go along with being a victim of sexual abuse. So, it's people who are 18-plus at the time, they get a one-year look-back window similar to the Child Victims Act. So, we're working hard to try and get that through this year,” she said.
The lawsuits would address claims arising from crimes including sexual assault and sexual harassment.
A spokesman for Senator Brad Hoylman, the Senate sponsor of the bill, told Capital Tonight that “it’s a very high priority for the Senator.”
Like Rosenthal, Hoylman wants to move it this session, but there are a few sticky issues surrounding the legislation.
While it was created, in part, in response to the crimes committed by disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, the bill could also snare Governor Andrew Cuomo if he is found to have committed the acts of sexual harassment which he has been accused of.
Ironically, a group of women who stood up to Harvey Weinstein and others have written a letter to the governor, urging him to support the bill. The letter was also signed by Evelyn Yang, the wife of New York City Mayoral candidate Andrew. Yang was abused by her OBGYN doctor when she was pregnant.
Last year, Capital Tonight spoke with model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, the first woman to report Harvey Weinstein to the police. After Gutierrez wore a wire and successfully got Weinstein to admit his guilt, the Manhattan district attorney opted not to pursue the case.
“What happened next is that the DA didn’t pursue my case in the way that it should have been done and actually they accused me, asking me if I ever was a prostitute in my former life because of my work,” Gutierrez said.
If the Adult Survivors Act is passed, the model and activist said she will likely pursue the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in court.