Dem challengers knock GOP senators for opposing Child Victims Act

Three Democratic Senate candidates voiced solidarity this week with the groups fighting for passage of the Child Victims Act in Albany and denounced Republican senators John Bonacic and George Amedore for opposing a bill that survivors of child sexual abuse and their advocates have long sought.

Rosendale Councilwoman Jen Metzger, who is one of two Democrats hoping to challenge Bonacic in the fall, and Kingston business owner Pat Strong, who plans to take on Amedore, issued a joint statement in support of the campaign to pressure the Senate’s ruling Republicans into surrendering opposition to the legislation.

“It’s deeply disappointing that Sen. Amedore stands in opposition to this bill,” Strong said in their joint press release. “Are our Senate representatives standing up for children or are they protecting predators?”

Metzger said: “Sen. Bonacic has consistently opposed the Child Victims Act. He apparently believes abused children must remain silent their entire lives.”

The bill would extend the statutes of limitations for criminal and civil cases for child sex abuse, which can’t be brought in New York after the victim turns 23 under current law. Senate Republicans and the New York State Catholic Conference object to a provision giving all past victims of abuse one year to sue. They argue that one-year “lookback” for past claims would force institutions like the Catholic Church to defend themselves against allegations that date back decades and for which little evidence may exist.

Supporters, led by the groups New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators and Fighting for Children PAC, counter that the one-year window is needed to expose past abusers who are still in contact with children, and to allow victims now older than 22 to seek justice for the crimes committed against them.

Pramilla Malick, an Orange County activist and Democrat who’s also running for Bonacic’s 42nd Senate District seat, joined Child Victims Act activists at a press conference at a Little League field in the Town of Wallkill on Thursday to protest Bonacic’s opposition. She said afterward in a press release that the law is needed “to not only make sure there are consequences to these criminal acts but to prevent more children from being preyed upon.”

Both the Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo had included the Child Victims Act in their budget proposals this year, and advocates ramped up their campaign in hopes of getting the bill enacted this week as part of the budget. The legislation appears to have been dropped from the budget negotiations, deferring debate on that issue to the second half of the legislative session that ends June 20.

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