ALBANY — The leader of the State Assembly confirmed Thursday that the chamber will approve the so-called Adult Survivors Act within the next two weeks, before the State Legislature adjourns for the year.
The bill would create a one-year window for a person who was sexually abused as an adult to sue their alleged abusers or institutions even if the statute of limitations has expired.
It’s based on the landmark Child Victims Act, which, enacted three years ago, resulted in 10,857 claims being filed. It was limited to individuals who were 17 or younger at the time of the alleged abuse.
The State Senate already has approved the adult survivors bill and advocates had been pressuring the Assembly to follow suit.
On Thursday, an aide to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said the chamber will pass the bill before the legislature adjourns for the year, set for June 2.
“It appears that there is enough support to take up the Adult Survivors Act before the end of session,” said Michael Whyland, a Heastie spokesman.
Advocates called the breakthrough an “earthquake.”
“Today's announcement that the Assembly plans to pass the Adult Survivors Act is an absolute earthquake for survivors' rights in New York,” said Liz Roberts, CEO of Safe Horizon, an organization that assists survivors of violence and which had lobbied strongly for the bill.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she’d sign the bill into law.
The Senate unanimously approved the bill, 62-0, in April. Since then, advocates have been pressuring Heastie to allow a vote on it.
Just last week, they held a news conference declaring the inaction “outrageous.”
Assemb. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), the primary sponsor of the bill, said it was a matter of “meeting with every legislator” and “slowly educating people about why adults needed the same look-back period.”
“Trauma takes time to deal with. You can’t just expect someone to walk into the police station the next day to say 'I’ve been sexually abused or assaulted,' ” Rosenthal told Newsday in an interview. “Some people just bury it because it’s too painful.”
She thanked advocates who “bared their souls” to get lawmakers to support the bill. Besides giving alleged victims their day in court, Rosenthal said the bill will help “root out abusers who thought they were safe” because of the statute of limitations barring claims about long-ago abuse.
In most cases, adult victims had to file a civil lawsuit within five years of the alleged abuse. In 2019, New York lawmakers loosened time limitations on bringing certain rape claims, but it didn’t apply retroactively to long-ago claims. The Adult Survivors Act would change that by allowing a one-year period to file lawsuits involving alleged abuse no matter how long ago.