Advocates push for legislation to pass supporting adult survivors of sexual assault

State Legislature

ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Advocates are urging the legislature to pass legislation to close the voluntary intoxication loophole, and the Adult Survivors Act before the end of session tomorrow.

“I shouldn’t have to be here today. I don’t want to be here today. I don’t think that survivors should have to come to Albany and grovel for what most people believe is already our right, to seek justice in the courts,” said sexual assault survivor Marissa Hoechstetter who is a supporter of the Adult Survivors Act.

 It would establish a one-year ‘look-back’ window for victims of sexual crimes who were adults when the abuse occurred, and time-barred by statutes of limitations, to file civil lawsuits. It’s similar to the 2019 Child Victims Act. 

Although concerns have been raised because some CVA survivors haven’t been able to find lawyers to represent them if cases don’t involve a wealthy abuser or institution, supporters of the AVA say that’s a larger issue with the legal system and that this bill should be put to a vote in the Assembly.

“We know that if bills come to the floor, members will vote for it. We just saw it in the Senate last week, 62 votes for, not one vote against,” said Michael Polenberg with Safe Horizon.

Another bill at hand is one to close the voluntary intoxication loophole. Senator Alessandra Biaggi who sponsors the bill says current law makes it difficult for survivors to seek justice and bring charges against their abuser if they voluntarily consume alcohol or drugs before their assault. “This loophole continues to send a very harmful message and it perpetuates a dangerous routine of victim blaming,” Biaggi said.

The bill to close the loophole is on the floor calendar in the Senate. Whether it gets a vote in the Assembly remains uncertain. As far as why that is, Senator Biaggi says it’s not been prioritized there.

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