NEW YORK NOW – With less than two days left in the legislative session, victims rights groups are calling on the state Assembly to advance the Adult Survivors Act, which would create a lookback window for adult victims of sexual offenses to sue their abusers.
The bill is modeled after the Child Victims Act, which passed in 2019. The CVA initially created a one-year lookback window for legal action in cases of childhood sexual abuse that fell outside of the statute of limitations. That window has since been extended.
The Adult Survivors Act would apply that same principle to people who suffered abuse after turning 18.The measure passed the Senate unanimously last week, but it remains in the Judiciary Committee in the Assembly.
The lag in the Assembly is frustrating some advocates, such as Michael Polenberg with Safe Horizon.
“The official line we’ve heard is, they are looking at the bill, they are studying the bill, they are talking to their conference about this bill,” Polenberg said.
“We think that with so many Assembly members having already signed on, and with a 62 to nothing vote in the senate just last week, I don’t know what else they need to know or learn about the bill, I think they just need to bring it to the floor.”
Marissa Hoechstetter, a survivor who works with Safe Horizon, said the issue affects more victims than people realize.
“I know women in my case who’ve been abused by the same man who chose not to have more kids, who’ve lost their sexual intimacy, who’ve lost marriages,” Hoechstetter said.
“I sent a letter on behalf of over 200 victims of Robert Hadden, the same person who assaulted me, asking for this common sense legislation.”
Hadden is a former Columbia University gynecologist who was indicted in September of 2020 for the sexual abuse of multiple people over the course of nearly 20 years.
If the measure does make it to the Assembly floor, advocates anticipate that it would pass with overwhelming support, based on the bipartisan support seen in the Senate.