Local officials are urging the New York State Senate to move quickly on approving the Child Victims Act. A resolution submitted by Erie County Legislature Chairman Peter Savage will be presented at the legislature session today.
The legislation would extend the statute of limitations for victims to bring criminal or civil charges forward.
With the state Senate budget due by April 1st, Savage said we know the damage in trauma victims have gone through.
“It takes years and years of therapy and inner strength before, in many cases, have the opportunity and the strength to come forward and report their crimes,” said Savage. “And far too often when that happens the laws of our state do not protect them. They do not give them the opportunity to confront their offender in a public court of law.”
The bill has been passed by the New York State Assembly several times including last June.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he believes the civil component of the bill is giving pause to certain lawmakers.
“Any time you deal with a civil aspect, you’re talking about money,” said Flynn. “And any time you’re dealing with money, you’re going to have institutions out there who are concerned about being sues for an act that occurred 30, 40, 50 years ago.”
Flynn said there are a number of legislators in Albany who are opposed to going backwards on civil lawsuits.
The last time they changed the statue was in 2006. They made all A and B sexual offense felonies have no statute.
“If anyone since 2006 comes forward with an A or B felony—which is basically forcible rape, a child under the age of 13… if they come forward we can prosecute that still if it happened after 2006,” said Flynn.
Flynn said if they extend the statute of limitations now on C, D, and E felonies, it will only take effect from 2018 moving forward. Supporters of the legislation say it often takes decades for survivors to feel comfortable reporting abuse.
If the bill passes, child victims could take criminal action against their alleged abusers up until age 28. Under the current law, victims have until 23 to report a crime.
When the resolution is passed, a certified copy will be sent to the governor and state officials letting them know Erie Count supports the Child Victims Act.