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Child Victims Act moving toward passage

January 11, 2019 06:08 PM

If you were abused as a child, Governor Andrew Cuomo says you should get the chance to face your alleged abuser now, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place.  On Friday, the Governor announced he would include the Child Victims Act in his executive budget which he will unveil on Tuesday.  

As a child, Melanie Blow of Rochester was sexually abused by a family member, she tells News10NBC she wasn’t able to talk about it until decades later. 

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“I was 24 when I heard that my abuser was being investigated by the police for abusing another child,” she recalls.  

That’s when she finally decided to go to police but after telling them her story, she was told that she was a year past the statute of limitation to file criminal charges, “it's horrible, it's being victimized all over again, it is just the most horrible thing to realize that all your suffering, everything you've gone through amounts to nothing.  That you cannot protect another child,” Melanie says.

In New York State, victims have until the age of 23 to file criminal charges against an alleged abuser.  The Child Victims Act raises that to 28 years old. Most lawmakers in Albany support that part of the bill, the hold-up in passage seems to be over a different aspect of the legislation.

The current versions of the Child Victims Act also allow victims to file civil suits against their abusers until the age of 50 and they open up a one-year lookback window for any victim, of any age, to file a civil suit against abusers and the organizations/businesses/charities where they worked.

News10NBC reviewed lobbying information which shows that the Catholic Church, public and private schools, insurance companies and the Boy Scouts have all paid to lobby against passage of the bill in previous legislative sessions, likely concerned they’ll be named in civil suits.  

Melanie says, it’s not a money grab for her and other victims like her, “civil records in New York are public, this is a way that you can get the name of somebody who has sexually abused children part of the public record,” she says.

In previous legislative sessions, the Democratic-led Assembly has passed a version of the Child Victims Act but the Republican-led Senate chose not to bring it out of committee.  Now that democrats have taken over the Senate majority, the bill has a greater chance of passing.  

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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