ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — The Adult Survivor Act got a unanimous 63 votes from the state Senate. The proposed bill would create a one year “lookback window” to allow victims of sexual assault, 18 years or older, to file a lawsuit against their offender.
“It is an important part of the healing process to be able to name in a court of law the person who harmed you and to say what the impact of that harm was,” said Michael Polenberg, VP of Safe Horizons, a victim assistance organization.
Advocates say New York’s current statute of limitations gives survivors a narrow window to report the assault. CEO of Safe Horizon, Liz Roberts explained that many adult survivors have delayed trauma responses.
“That meant that by the time they were ready to come forward that they felt safe enough they felt clear enough about what had happened to them, that they were told that the statute of limitation had run and that they had no access to either civil or criminal court,” said Roberts.
Senator Brad Hoylman is the sponsor of this bill. He says, similar legislation was passed in 2019. The Child Victims Act extended the statute of limitation for adult survivors who were abused as children to take legal action against their attackers.
While the Adult Survivor Act has passed in the Senate, advocates are waiting on the Assembly’s stamp of approval. This same legislation was brought to the floor last year, but did not pass in the Assembly. Senator Hoylman said this could be due to concerns of false claims coming forward as well as financial interests with insurance groups.
He says, the chances of that happening don’t compare to the injustice survivors go through.
“These survivors deserve their day in court. We recognize that by extending the statutes of limitation prospectively for survivors of sexual abuse, but so many New Yorkers never had the benefit of that and we owe it to them to get this bill passed,” said Hoylman.