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Hochul signs Adult Survivors Act


Tue, May 24th 2022 03:20 pm

Empowers survivors of sexual offenses that occurred when they were over the age of 18 to file suit regardless of when abuse occurred

√ One-year lookback window begins six months from signing

Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed the Adult Survivors Act (S.66A/A.648A), creating a one-year lookback window for survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were over the age of 18 to sue their abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred.

"Today, we take an important step in empowering survivors across New York to use their voices and hold their abusers accountable," Hochul said. "The fight against sexual assault requires us to recognize the impact of trauma within our justice system. I am proud to sign this legislation, which is part of our collective responsibility to protect one another and create an environment that makes survivors feel safe. While our work is not done, eradicating sexual assault begins with our ability to bring the perpetrators of these heinous acts to justice, and this legislation is a historic step forward."

In 2019, New York passed the Child Victims Act, which created a one-year lookback window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations.

Similar to the Child Victims Act, the Adult Survivors Act is designed to empower survivors of sexual offenses that occurred when they were over the age of 18.

The one-year window will begin six months from signing and will allow survivors to sue regardless of the statute of limitations.

Hochul’s team said, “For many survivors, it may take years to come to terms with the trauma of sexual assault and feel ready to seek justice against an abuser, while possibly experiencing fear of retaliation or shame.”

In 2019, New York extended the statute of limitations to 20 years for adults filing civil lawsuits for a select number of sex crimes. However, that legislation only affected new cases and was not retroactive.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "For too long, our legal system has failed adult survivors and prevented them from accessing true justice. It takes time to come forward, particularly when faced with the trauma that accompanies disclosures. With the Adult Survivors Act, we are saying that we believe you and that you deserve accountability. This powerful legislation is the first of many steps towards better supporting survivors of sexual abuse and ensuring these heinous crimes don't go unpunished.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "The Adult Survivors Act is critical to ensuring that every survivor of sexual abuse is able to have their day in court and experience a sense of justice. This legislation builds on our previous work to deliver justice to survivors of childhood sexual abuse and sends a clear message that perpetrators will be held accountable.”

Earlier this year, the governor announced nearly $24 million for domestic violence and sexual assault programs, including $16 million for 83 domestic violence programs and shelters and $7.6 million for 50 rape crisis centers and sexual assault programs.

Hochul also recently announced $21.4 million in federal aid being used for domestic violence service providers to help survivors pay for the short-term expenses associated with relocation, including rent, utilities and repairs.

Earlier this month, she signed legislation that expanded protections for victims of domestic violence to areas of discrimination where they were not previously guaranteed, such as housing and public accommodations.

Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence Connie Neal said, "Healing from sexual violence is a journey, and survivors may not come forward for several years. A majority of survivors know their abusers and they may be reluctant to report incidents due to fear of retaliation or exposure of intimate details. They may also feel that they will be blamed, defamed, or will not be taken seriously. There is also a clear link between sexual assault and domestic violence, as most survivors who are physically assaulted by an intimate partner also disclose experiencing sexual assault by that same partner. We thank Gov. Hochul and members of the legislature for upholding New York's commitment to supporting survivors by expanding the statute of limitations and providing avenues of justice to so many across our state."

CEO of Safe Horizon Liz Roberts said, "The collective power of survivors is one of the most powerful forces I have ever encountered. The Adult Survivors Act is a testament to that power. I'm grateful to every survivor who told their story, who met with a lawmaker, who used their voice on social media or in any other way. We would not be here without them. Thank you, Gov. Hochul and the Legislature, for hearing survivors, making them a priority and giving them another path to justice."

The Foundation for Survivors of Abuse Executive Director Mary Ellen O'Loughlin said, "Passage of the ASA took a fraction of the time that it took for CVA to pass. It's good to know legislators listen and act on what is right. Now it's time for the abusers to feel the raw vulnerability so many survivors have felt."

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