Survivor hopeful Child Victims Act will be passed this year

January 14, 2019

  • State Sen. George Amedore, R-46. Child Victims Act advocate Gary Greenberg called out local state senators to support the bill.

  • Gary Greenberg, the founder of Fighting For Children PAC, is pictured speaking at a rally in Mount Kisco supporting the Child Victims Act. Greenberg is hopeful that the Child Victims Act will make it through negotiations in the state budget process this year.

  • C-GM File Photo

    State Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-43, said now is not the time for political lawsuits, in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Friday announcement, but it is time to find ways to provide New York families with more tax relief.

  • State Sen. George Amedore, R-46. Child Victims Act advocate Gary Greenberg called out local state senators to support the bill.

  • Gary Greenberg, the founder of Fighting For Children PAC, is pictured speaking at a rally in Mount Kisco supporting the Child Victims Act. Greenberg is hopeful that the Child Victims Act will make it through negotiations in the state budget process this year.

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Richard Moody Columbia-Greene Media

March 15, 2018 11:29 pm

 

NEW BALTIMORE — A local man championing legislation that would extend the statute of limitations for sexual crimes committed against children is hopeful the issue will be addressed this year.

The deadline for each house of the state legislature to submit resolutions for the 2018-2019 budget was Wednesday. Both houses included derivatives of a provision Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed in his 2019 executive budget that would eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children, which is a good sign local advocate Gary Greenberg said.

Greenberg, who was sexually assaulted as a child, has advocated for the Child Victims Act for years, but did not see much support for it until the Assembly passed a version of the bill last year.

The Senate never brought the bill up for a vote on the floor.

The governor proposed eliminating the statute of limitations in both criminal and civil cases with a one-year look-back period for adult survivors who cannot seek civil reparations.

“This is the proposal I am supporting,” Greenberg said. “New York has the worst laws on child sexual abuse in the country. It’s intolerable that has gone on for so long.”

Greenberg has strong support in the Assembly, but what Assembly members are is proposing is lacking, he said.

The Assembly proposed the same bill in its budget resolutions that it passed last year, which would count down the statute of limitations in criminal cases starting when the survivor turns 23 years old. The bill would also extend the statute of limitations in civil cases to when the survivor turns 50 years old with a one-year look-back window.

“We definitely need the look-back window,” Greenberg said. “Many of the cases we have seen in the last six to eight months, they do not have a criminal case. I would have liked to see stronger language in the Assembly’s proposal, but it is a start.

“Hopefully they will negotiate to pass the governor’s proposal, which is the best one on the table.”

The average survivor of child sexual crimes do not come forward until they are adults — 49 years old for women and 41 years old for men — Greenberg said.

The Senate included a declaration of support for similar provisions being proposed in the Child Victims Act.

“The resolution reaffirms the Senate’s strong support for amendments to both the civil and criminal statutes of limitations to further protect children from dangerous sexual predators,” according to the Senate’s resolution.

“They did not specifically mention the Child Victims Act, but it is in there, so it is negotiable,” Greenberg said.

The deadline for the state to pass its budget is April 1, under penalty of losing federal funding. Traditionally, the process under Cuomo’s administration involves a negotiation behind closed doors between leaders in both houses of the Legislature, including Senate President John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein.

The fate of the Child Victims Act will ultimately fall on their shoulders.

“I have been in contact with the leaders in both houses and the governor’s office,” Greenberg said. “They know what I want. I am hopeful the Republican leadership in the Senate will allow the Child Victims Act in the budget and pass it. I do not see why they would not.”

Greenberg learned how to flex his political muscle over time by creating a Public Action Committee, which provides campaign funding to candidates in elections who will support the Child Victims Act. He also hired Republican Consultant Justin McCarthy — someone Greenberg said has extensive history working in Albany and with the Legislature on criminal justice issues.

“I hired him to speak to senators and Assembly members to help generate support for the bill,” Greenberg said. “There are predators who need to be taken off the street, but are still out there because of New York’s lax laws. If the Senate leaders don’t want to do what’s right, they will face the wrath of victims and advocates in the election.”

Greenberg’s Fighting for Children PAC is supporting Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, D-90, who is running to fill the 37th Senate District seat in a special election April 24. The PAC is also supporting Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, D-87, who is running for the 32nd Senate District seat next month.

The Child Victims Act had the support of both former local Assemblymen Pete Lopez, R-102, and Steve McLaughlin, R-107, Greenberg said.

“[State Sen. George Amedore Jr., R-46] has to step up and support the Child Victims Act,” Greenberg said. “There is no excuse for Amedore or [state Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-43] to not support this.”

Seventy-nine percent of voters support the Child Victims Act as the governor proposed, and 14 percent of voters opposed the bill, according to a Siena College Poll that surveyed 823 registered voters in the state.

The support crossed party lines with 83 percent of registered Democrats and 70 percent of registered Republicans.

“I strongly support public safety measures that protect children from dangerous sexual predators and ensure that victims of sexual abuse see justice,” Marchione said. “I believe it’s critical that victims see justice and sexual predators receive the severe criminal and civil punishments that their evil crimes warrant.”

Marchione sponsors a bill, the state Child Protection Act of 2018, which would remove the statute of limitations and allow for criminal prosecution of a sexual offense committed against a child to be commenced at any time.

Marchione’s bill differs from the Child Victims Act because it would allow civil proceedings against an offender within five years of an individual turning 23 years old for a crime committed when they were less than 18 years of age.

The bill would also create an obligation by members of the clergy to report sexual abuse if they have reasonable suspicion and mandates all corporations in the state conduct criminal history searches when filling positions in which an employee or volunteer may have unsupervised contact with a child.

Several requests for comment from Amedore were not answered by press time Thursday.

 

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