Locals call for Golden to support legislation protecting victims of child sex crimes

Locals call for Golden to support legislation protecting victims of child sex crimes
New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators

Protesters rallied outside the office of Bay Ridge’s state senator on Feb. 26, calling for him to support the more-than-decade-old Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations to allow for survivors of child sex abuse to come forward with their claims as adults.

One of the survivors protesting at the Fifth Avenue office of state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) said Golden’s continued opposition to a bill combatting sexual abuse is particularly egregious on the heels of the national #MeToo movement.

“As the rest of America continues to decry sexual abuse and harassment, Golden remains firmly planted on the wrong side of history, allowing hidden predators to continue inflicting pain and damage on our communities,” said Steve Jimenez, a founding member of New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators, which organized the demonstration. “The inaction of him and his Republican colleagues in the Senate is a disgrace, and New Yorkers are making it known they have had have enough.”

Current law prevents sex-abuse survivors from pursuing civil cases after they turn 23, and accusers in cases against public institutions have just 90 days to begin filing a lawsuit. The Child Victims Act would extend the statute of limitations to age 50 in civil cases, and to age 28 in criminal cases.

Last spring, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called for state lawmakers to allow a floor vote on the legislation, pointing out that New York is one of only four states — along with Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi — that restricts child sex abuse survivors from pursuing legal action via statutes of limitation.

But Golden said at the time he didn’t see an “impetus” to pass the bill last year.

The bill is currently stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee and still has no floor vote scheduled — a fact protesters in Albany decried the day the legislature returned from its mid-winter break on Feb. 27, complaining that Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan wasn’t allowing the bill to come to the floor.

But Cuomo included it in his 2018 executive budget proposal last month, and a recent Quinnipiac poll shows that New York state voters overwhelmingly support it by 90–6 percent.

Another founding member of New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators said at the Monday protest that the state’s current child sex abuse laws prioritize and protect abusers over accusers, and that the state Senate should bring the Child Victims Act to a vote.

“The Child Victims Act will break the hidden culture of abuse that plagues our communities, while also giving victims their day in court,” said Marci Hamilton. “The state Senate should follow Gov. Cuomo’s lead in embracing the importance of this bill and putting it up for a vote.”

Another survivor at the protest said that Golden and any other senator who stands in the way of the bill are ignoring survivors’ rights.

“Any senator who refuses to support the Child Victims Act has total disregard for a victim’s right to seek justice,” said Kathryn Robb. “Survivors have been silenced for decades, but we have seen an unprecedented wave of support and encouragement in the past year that gives us hope this long overdue bill will be passed once and for all.”

A spokesman for Golden pointed to legislation that the state senator has previously supported, including bills to restrict the definition of statutory consent for sexual relations on college campuses, criminalize computer sex crimes, and prohibit registered sex offenders from working with kids. He added that Golden wants to punish predators and support survivors, but implied that Golden does not think the Child Victims Act is the best way to do so.

“This is an important and serious issue, and the members of the New York State Senate, including Sen. Golden, are committed to doing even more to punish dangerous sexual predators and protect the children of New York,” said James McClelland. “Everyone agrees that everything should be done to help those who have been sexually abused transition from being a victim to becoming a survivor. The question is how best to do that.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.