Child Victims bill gets boost from governor and Me Too founder

Me Too founder Tarana Burke

By Sabina Mollot

It’s been a good week for the Child Victims Act, legislation sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman that would significantly expand the statue of limitations survivors of sex abuse have to file charges. Currently, they have until the age of 23. Under the legislation, they’d have until 50 for civil cases, 28 for criminal ones.

On Monday, the founder of the Me Too movement, Tarana Burke, said the bill had her support as a survivor of sexual abuse herself.

She told The Daily News that “The origins of the Me Too movement are rooted in the protection of children.”

While actually a decade old, the Me Too movement became a household hashtag last October during the Harvey Weinstein scandal when celebrities encouraged other victims to come forward.

Additionally, Hoylman told Town & Village that he learned on Tuesday that the legislation is included in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget.

While this doesn’t mean it will absolutely get signed, Hoylman called it good news “as an indicator of the governor’s priorities.”

He added, “It’s a very positive sign for advocates as well as New Yorkers who believe in the right to a trial and the opportunity for survivors to confront their abusers in a court of law.”

The bill has been passed in the Assembly but not Hoylman’s own chamber. The fact that it’s in the state budget means it’s still subject to negotiations in both houses.

“Like most things in Albany, it’s a horse trade,” he said. “Will the Child Victims Act be traded away? How much muscle are legislative leaders willing to put behind it?”

He said the next couple of months would be key in drumming up public support since the budget won’t be passed until April. This may not be too difficult though since a poll has shown that 76 percent of New Yorkers support the bill. It has its opponents however in churches and youth groups.

Meanwhile, eyes have been on the governor since last week’s allegations of Senate Independent Democratic Coalition leader Jeff Klein forcibly kissing a former Albany staffer.

On this, Hoylman said he supports the idea of an independent investigation as has been called for Senate Democrat leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. But Hoylman added that he thought while his own party understood the seriousness of the situation and the Me Too movement, the Senate as a whole “should take the matter much more seriously.

“They should have an investigation instead of saying they don’t have jurisdiction, which frankly is an insult to New Yorkers who may have suffered sexual harassment at the workplace,” he added. “We should have our own zero tolerance in the workplace.”

Hoylman suggested it might help to add more female perspective during the decision making. “I think Andrea Stewart-Cousins would make a great addition to the three men in a room.”

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