N.Y. lawmaker pushes hearing on child sex assault victims bill

ALBANY — The sponsor of a bill to make it easier for child sexual assault victims to seek justice as adults is pushing for a state Senate hearing on the issue.

Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and the seven other Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the panel’s chairman, John Bonacic (R-Orange County) petitioning for the hearing.

The letter could put the Senate GOP, which has blocked passage of the Child Victims Act for years, in the position of either agreeing to hold the hearing or publicly voting to reject it.

According to Senate rules, a hearing must be held if one-third of the members of a committee petition for it — “unless a majority of the members of the committee reject such a petition.”

“We trust this will not be the case, and the Committee will schedule a hearing … as soon as practicable,” the letter says.

Bonacic could not be reached for comment.

Hoylman said a hearing would be “very important and long overdue.”

He previously had tried a procedural move to force the Judiciary Committee to take an up-or-down vote on the bill.

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Sen. John Bonacic, R-Middletown, speaks during a Senate judiciary hearing.

(Mike Groll/AP)

Under Senate rules, members can file three such requests a year. A committee then has up to 45 days to act on the bill. The 45 days have come and gone without any action.

At the time Hoylman filed the request, Bonacic said he was focused on the budget negotiations and promised “we’ll have to take a look at it (at) the appropriate time.”

The Senate gave final approval to the budget on April 9, before beginning a two-week break. The Legislature is set to return April 24.

“The Senate has a history of not taking up bills that under the rules they should, but hopefully that won’t be the case this time,” Hoylman said late last week.

Hoylman’s bill would eliminate the time limit that an abuse victim can bring a case against his or her attacker. Under current law, people have until their 23rd birthday.

It would also provide a one-year window to revive old cases, and it would treat public and private institutions the same. Currently, someone abused at a school or other public institution must file a notice of intent to sue within 90 days of the incident.

Gov. Cuomo has said he would make passage of a Child Victims Act a priority this year, but he has yet to formally introduce a bill. An Assembly Democratic bill falls far short of what advocates are seeking.

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