Adult Survivors Act Update: What Needs to Happen for Sexual Assault Survivors to Get Justice

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Adult Survivors Act Update Merson Law PLLC

This year, a revolutionary bill was passed in the New York State Senate.

The Adult Survivors Act was brought before the Senate on June 3, 2021 and passed unanimously.

Not a single state senator voted against the bill, and (in our opinion) for good reason. The Adult Survivors Act would create a one-year lookback window for cases of adult sexual abuse. 

This means that for one year, civil statutes of limitations on sexual assault and rape in New York state would be lifted. Anyone who was sexually assaulted after the age of 18 in the state of New York could take civil action against their assailant, no matter how long it’s been since this occurred. 

It’s similar to the Child Victims Act, which is targeted at victims of child sex abuse, and created a similar lookback window.

Brad Hoylman, the senator who sponsored the bill, had this to say about it: 

“Adult survivors of serial sexual assaulters like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Robert Hadden have been shut out of our courthouses by inadequate statutes of limitations. That ends now.”

But unfortunately, that doesn’t end now.

Senator Brad Hoylman speaking on the Adult Survivors Act

In order for the bill to become law, it must pass in the Senate and in the Assembly.

On June 3, 2021, immediately after passing in the Senate, the bill was brought to the Assembly and added to a long list of legislation that needs to be examined.

Then the bill stopped dead in its tracks. 

Now, it’s looking like it may not have a chance to pass until January of next year.

New York State Assembly Chamber, where the Adult Survivors Act must pass to become law

What’s taking the Assembly so long?

In New York, the State Assembly has a half-year legislative session. This means that the Assembly only meets from January until June. Because of this, there was only a little less than a month for the Assembly to look over the Adult Survivors Act. 

A month may sound like plenty of time, but the Assembly also has to examine every other piece of legislation that is on track to become law.

Additionally, a month for the Assembly isn’t actually a month – it can be as few as 7 days, like it was this past June.

The Legislative Session Calendar only had the Assembly meeting from June 1st to the 3rd and then from the 7th to the 10th (the Assembly never meets on weekends, which includes Fridays).

In reality, the Assembly only had four days to get to the Adult Survivors Act, and at the end of the session, it was left unopened along with several other pieces of legislation.

Adult Survivors Act Update Merson Law PLLC

What survivors can do despite this setback

Critics of the Assembly are furious, and so are many survivors who had hoped that his bill would enable them to pursue justice for the first time. 

It’s okay to be upset – frankly, we are too. 

This is an unfortunate setback, but survivors cannot lose hope.

Like you, the sexual assault lawyers at Merson Law PLLC are no strangers to setbacks. 

We’ve seen the Boy Scouts of America stall cases of sexual assault by filing for bankrupcty.

We’ve seen the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell pushed back from July to November of this year.

We’ve seen courts grind to a halt at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through all of this, we persevere, and we do it for you and survivors like you.

While the legislature is out, survivors across the state are making it known to their government that this bill must pass. It’s active citizens like these who pressure politicians into enacting change for the good. 

Survivors can advocate for this change by getting involved. They can also prepare for the Adult Survivors Act to pass by retaining the services of a sexual assault attorney, like our team here at Merson Law. Call us today or fill out our contact form to get started with your case for free.

We’re in the thick of it with you, striving each day to create a world where all survivors get justice.

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