Adult Survivors Act appears poised to pass through Assembly

ALBANY— As the Adult Survivors Act appears poised to pass through the Assembly before the end of the state legislative session, activists continue to debate whether the legislation is the best way to address the needs of people who suffered sexual abuse. 

The bill, designed after the Child Victims Act, would allocate a one-year lookback window for survivors to file civil claims against their abusers or the institutions that safeguard them. It has already passed in the state Senate unanimously twice. 

After the Child Victims Act became law, survivors struggled to find legal representation, said Gary Greenberg, founder of Protect NY Kids, because attorneys often would not take on cases without a wealthy defendant. 

He said he is vehemently against the Adult Survivors Act as it’s currently written. Instead, he’d prefer that the Legislature pass a legal fund similar to the one that’s been proposed for survivors of child sexual abuse that struggled to find attorneys. 

A bill tackling the issue has been introduced by state Sen. James Gaughran, D-Long Island. If passed, it would change the state’s tax law to allow for corporations to contribute their tax refund toward the Child Victim Foundation Fund. 

As activists celebrated the announcement that there are enough votes to pass  — first reported by NY1 — Greenberg said the legislation would create all of the issues the Child Victims Act created for survivors seeking recourse. 

“There are more victims who will soon find out lawyers will not take their ASA cases for the same reasons as the CVA did. The Legislature is setting victims up to be revictimized. 

“In the end, tens of thousands of victims will be left at the door of justice looking in.”

Asher Lovy, executive director of ZA’AKAH, an organization that connects survivors in the Orthodox Jewish community to services, said the experience of trying to get the Adult Survivors Act passed through the Legislature has been frustrating, especially for those who experienced abuse firsthand but continue to lobby for the bill. 

“I don’t think these legislators understand that every time you ask a survivor to tell their story, you’re taking a piece of them,” he said. 

Lovy pointed out that a number of high-profile cases are waiting to be advanced once the legislation becomes law, a fundamental part of the bill that Greenberg disagrees with. 

“It would only help a class of survivors,” Greenberg said. “It’s the wrong message to send.” 

https://www.timesunion.com/state/article/Adult-Survivors-Act-poised-to-pass-through-17190947.php

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