I was disappointed that the State Senate failed to move the Child Victims Act out of committee this week, due to the unanimous opposition of its Minority members.
Over the past six months Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson has done an outstanding job of enlightening her Senate colleagues about the vital importance of this bill. Both of us were looking forward to its debate and passage on the floor of the Senate over the next few weeks, then to the debate and adoption of the Child Victims Act once again by my colleagues in the Assembly.
The Assembly has passed this bill three times since 2006 and we were hopeful that it would move forward in the State Senate where it was finally brought forward for the first time this year.
It is a sad commentary that the opposing Senators in the Codes Committee acted to derail that hope. They acted instead to protect pedophiles who have raped and sodomized children by preventing the full Senate from debating this legislation.
The result of the failure of this committee to pass the bill along to the full Senate leaves us without the hope of enacting the Child Victims Act during this current legislative session. However this result does not diminish our determination to make it the law of New York State during the coming year.
The Child Victims Act will provide the opportunity for victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek the only possible justice for the crimes committed against them – and it will expose predators who continue to abuse children and those who knowingly shield them from accountability for their illegal and immoral actions.
Public support for the bill has continued to build over the past five years. There have been demonstrations, press conferences, petition drives and post card campaigns. Over the past year alone, thousands of grass roots New Yorkers signed an on-line petition and sent more than 62,000 messages to individual members of the Assembly and Senate to say they want it to become law.
Though we are disappointed in the outcome this week, everybody should know that both Senator Hassell-Thompson and I will continue to fight to make the Child Victims Act a law in the year ahead.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all the brave survivors who have come forward to speak out about the urgent need for this law, particularly those who have traveled to Albany and around the state to educate individual legislators about the bill. I also want to thank all the organizations, committed advocates and the many professionals who have spoken up to support the legislation. We will be in touch with you over the months to come to suggest how you can help continue our fight to enact this bill. Your continued support will help us ultimately achieve passage of this just law.