The following is an expanded version of the third item from my “Albany Insider” column from Monday’s print editions:
Businessman and liberal activist Bill Samuels, who helped finance the unsuccessful effort in November to create a constitutional convention, is now backing a bill to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice as adults.
Samuels will take part in a press conference by advocates Tuesday calling on Gov. Cuomo to include the Child Victims Act in his State of the State address Wednesday and his upcoming state budget proposal.
“This is a no brainer,” Samuels said. “Why Cuomo doesn’t put this in his budget, why the (Senate) Republicans don’t go along with it, I don’t get it.”
Cuomo last year backed the Child Victims Act, though he did not include it in his budget plan, which is when he has the most leverage over the Legislature. The Assembly passed the bill, but it died in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi Sunday wouldn’t reveal whether the governor plans to highlight the issue in his State of the State speech on Wednesday and if it will be included in his 2018-19 budget proposal.
He previously said that “It is outrageous that as a result of arcane laws, these victims have been denied their day in court. We are working with the advocates to determine the most effective way to achieve these much needed reforms.”
The Tuesday rally at the state Capitol complex will include child sex abuse victims, including Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor who created a political action committee to push for passage of the Child Victims Act.
The bill passed last year by the Assembly, and supported by Cuomo, would allow survivors to bring civil cases up until their 50th birthdays and felony criminal cases until their 28th birthdays. Currently, they have until their 23rd birthdays to bring such cases.
The bill also include a one-year window to revive old cases and treats public and private institutions the same. Currently, those abused in a public setting like a school have just 90 days from the incident occurring to formally file an intent to sue.
Religious groups like the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish community oppose the provision that would open a window to revive old cases.
The advocates Tuesday will also call on the Legislature to pass bills to require public schools to implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program and end the conditional prison releases of felony child pedophiles.
They will also call for passage of Brittany’s Law, which would require convicted domestic violence offenders to register with the state upon parole or release from incarceration, hospitalization or institutionalization. The database would be similar to that of the Megan’s Law registry that allows people to see if a convicted sex offender lives in their community.
The Senate has passed Brittany’s Law six times, but it has died in the Assembly.