Empowers Survivors of Sexual Offenses that Occurred When They Were Over the Age of 18 to File Suit Regardless of When Abuse Occurred
One-Year Lookback Window Begins Six Months from Signing
Governor Hochul: "Today is a good day. Today is a righteous day because it is a victory for justice and it is long overdue. So many people have fought for this to finally have their voices heard, including many of those who are with us here today. I want to thank them for their courage, for their dedication, and carrying on this fight."
Hochul: "The trauma that comes with experiencing sexual assault does not arbitrarily adhere to a limit of time, nor can justice be held to a period of time. Going forth, after today in New York, it will not To those who thought they got away with horrific crimes they committed I just have one message: Your time is up. Your victims will see you in court and you will be brought to justice."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act (S.66A/A.648A), creating a one-year lookback window for survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were over the age of 18 to sue their abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good morning. I wanted to make sure we start approximately on time because people have waited long enough, and that is why we are here today. I'm very proud to recognize two outstanding public servants. I have to say, I've probably done more bill signings with these two as the co-sponsors than any other two legislators. Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who are the sponsors of the bill. If there is a cause to be championed, you want to make sure that it gets in their hands because they have an incredible record of success for fighting for people whose voices have been suppressed for far too long.
And I also want to recognize some incredibly courageous survivor advocates, Marissa Hoechstetter and Drew Dixon, for all you have done to make sure that the voices of those you represent finally are listened to. So, let's give them a round of applause here today.
Today is a good day. Today is a righteous day because it is a victory for justice and it is long overdue. So many people have fought for this to finally have their voices heard, including many of those who are with us here today. I want to thank them for their courage, for their dedication, and carrying on this fight.
I remember back in 2017, I could feel a seismic shift occurring. It was the Genesis of the Me Too movement when people started finally talking about their experiences and holding people in power accountable. I thank them because those issues need to be raised up, they needed to be addressed, and society needed to acknowledge what had happened to far too many people.
And I thought then, you know, we're finally putting this behind us. People don't have to live in the shadows any longer. They can come forth with their story without fear of retribution or the shame that is sometimes associated with just being an innocent person and thinking you had something to do with an assault.
I also thought in 2017, it was a time when, as lieutenant governor, I was championing the fact around the state that it was the centennial of women's right to vote in this state. I talked about the courageous women who had put their voices forward to ensure that women were no longer treated as the property of men, that they would have control over their body and their decisions, and really have control over their destinies.
So that was what I was celebrating at the same time we were talking about how once and for all people who've endured the unthinkable were finally liberated. And so, those brave people speaking the truth five years ago, followed in the footsteps of those brave women and so has every single person who's come forward since that time.
Today we are surrounded by survivors and truth tellers. Finally, we are starting to right a wrong that has existed for far too long because when it came to sexual assault, our laws were protecting the abusers more than not, specifically when it came to something known as the statute of limitations, which sounds harmless. Statute limitations, what could go wrong with that? Except it was a barrier to justice for too long, because there's so much trauma that comes with being the survivor of a sexual assault. Again, you have that shame - did I do something wrong? Did I provoke this? Sometimes there's fear, sometimes there's loss of memory. There's so many reasons why it could take someone year, literally decades, to come forward with the truth about what happened to them and all of those reasons are legitimate and none of them is an invalidation of their experience, their trauma, and what really occurred.
Through the Child Victims Act, we finally saw people liberated and coming forth. We heard their stories here and in newspapers, all across our states and our nation. And talked about what happened when people are minors, but it forgot a lot of people. What about the people who were adults when they experienced this trauma? We didn't do enough to protect those individuals until today.
I'm so proud in a matter of minutes, that I will sign the adult survivors act with our incredible sponsors, Brad Hoylman, Linda Rosenthal, Assemblymember. It creates a one-year lookback window for adult survivors of sexual assault to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers. For this one-year period, lawsuits will not be barred by the statute of limitations or a notice of claim requirement.
Also, it'll allow for there to be civil actions to be revived that were previously dismissed due to being time barred or failure to file a notice of claim. It will not be dismissed any longer on those grounds.
The trauma that comes with experiencing sexual assault does not arbitrarily adhere to a limit of time, nor can justice be held to a period of time. Going forth, after today in New York, it will not.
This is personal to me. My mother was an advocate. Survivors of domestic violence for decades. Literally I was back in high school and college when my mother became a champion, when they used to call them victims of wife beatings. The laws were so stacked against the women in those situations. I remember my mother, who just had no experience in this, she came to Albany to insist that there be hearings in our hometown of Buffalo, to allow these stories to come forth and understand why the laws favored the men when there was a situation. Literally, someone could call 911 and ask for police help when there's been an abuse in the home. The police would come to the door and if the husband answered the door and said everything's fine here, the police officer legally could just walk away and say case closed. That is what happened for so long.
So, for my mother and our family, this was a deeply personal cause and she understood how to help survivors and understand the impact of trauma on individual lives. We worked together to form a home for victims of domestic violence so they could have a place of healing and to recover. So, we're going to continue supporting those kinds of programs, but also New York State is the only state in the nation with a cabinet level agency dedicated to addressing gender based violence.
I'm proud today to be carrying on my mother's fight. My administration is carrying on the fight, but in so doing, it's carrying on the fight for all of you. A fight that you did not back down from when times got tough and you just felt there were too many doors closing. You never gave up and it is that resiliency of spirit that we celebrate here today.
To those who thought they got away with horrific crimes they committed I just have one message: Your time is up. Your victims will see you in court and you will be brought to justice.