Top Republican says Senate unlikely to vote on bill to help child abuse victims this year

By Kenneth Lovett, Glenn Blain (NY Daily News)
May 24, 2016

ALBANY — A top Republican leader in the state Senate said Tuesday that it was unlikely lawmakers would take action this year to help victims of child sex abuse obtain justice.

“I don’t believe it’s going to come to the floor, I really don’t,” said Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) about legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases.

DeFrancisco, during an appearance on public radio’s “The Capitol Pressroom,” cautioned, however, that he might be wrong, noting that he felt the same way about proposals earlier this year to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour that were approved.

DeFrancisco has been among the most vocal opponents of the Child Victims Act and other bills that would eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a child and give victims a one-year window to revive old civil cases.

“The purpose of the statute of limitations is to make sure that the proceeding is fair,” DeFrancisco said.

Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday for the first time said he is open to a bill that includes the one-year look-back window.

“When you talk about a window, you need a window that protects due process on both sides, doesn’t encourage frivolous lawsuits — which I believe can be accomplished,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo also said he supports treating public and private institutions the same when it comes to sexual abuse cases. Under current law, a kid abused in a public entity like a school has 90 days to file a claim while those abused in private institutions like parochial schools have until their 23rd birthdays.

“I don’t see a reason for the distinction between the two,” Cuomo said.

The Child Victims Act also gained new support Tuesday from the 1,200-member Black Church Initiative and The National Council of Young Israel, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens), sponsor of the measure, announced.