By Cayla Harris
April 20, 2020
Activists had hoped that the state Legislature would take up at least two bills supporting survivors of sexual abuse this legislative session, but with an uncertain schedule amid a pandemic, they worry the measures will be left on the backburner.
Survivors of sexual abuse and members of the advocacy group Safe Horizon hosted a press call on Monday urging legislators to resume session and pass the Adult Survivors Act. The measure – like the Child Victims Act that went into effect in August – would open a one-year look-back period for adult victims to pursue previously time-barred lawsuits against their alleged abusers.
“If and when someone chooses to come forward, their pathway to justice should not be time-barred or limited to results from a fraught criminal justice system,” said Marissa Hoechstetter, a survivor of sexual assault. “Lawmakers must stay in remote session and provide all survivors a chance to access justice on our own terms.”
Safe Horizon has also hosted several press conferences pushing for an extension of the Child Victims Act’s look-back window, which will expire this summer. More than 1,800 cases have been filed since the period opened in August, but many survivors whose alleged abusers are not linked to well-known institutions have reported challenges finding lawyers.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, both Democrats of Manhattan, sponsor the bills. They have also pressed lawmakers to return to session, as both the Senate and the Assembly await direction from their respective leaders.
Lawmakers were due to return to Albany on Monday after a scheduled recess, with session days planned through Thursday. Though legislators have passed measures allowing for remote session legislative sources say session will likely not resume until late April or early May, when lawmakers will consider coronavirus-related bills.