New York Child Sex Abuse Bill Passes State Senate

New York Child Sex Abuse Bill Passes State SenateThe New York Senate just passed the child sex abuse bill, “Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Act” (S5226A). The bill, sponsored by Senator Steve Saland (R-I-C, Poughkeepsie), Chairman of the Senate Codes Committee, is slated to be sent to the Assembly.

The Act will create new and more stringent measures to protect children from sexual predators who troll them on the Internet and assist those striving to prosecute sexual abusers, said Empire State News. “Sexual abuse against children is despicable and unacceptable,” said Senator Saland. “With the Internet and other technology, these crimes have increased and become more complex to prosecute. This bill makes changes to the law and gives law enforcement the tools to track down those who exploit and abuse innocent children. Enacting the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Act will make significant progress in protecting our children and putting those vile perpetrators behind bars,” Senator Saland added.

A growing societal problem, in the United States alone, some 100,000 to 300,000 children are sexually exploited every year through prostitution and pornography, noted Empire State News. The Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Act aims to put in place some aggressive steps to better protect children from Internet predators, child pornography, and child sexual abuse and also addresses crimes such as exploitation and prostitution offenses.

The bill enables the introduction of business records—significantly, Internet service provider records—into evidence in grand jury proceedings; mandating registered sex offenders to supply verification of their Internet accounts and screen names while also allowing the Department of Criminal Justice Services to provide this information to Internet service providers; adding specific sexual crimes against children to the existing list of violent felony offenses; and strengthening penalties for activities involving minors in prostitution, to name just some, said Empire State News.

The issue of sex crimes has been making headlines in a broadening array of areas. For instance, we just wrote that filmmaker and survivor, Chris Gavagan, is pushing to change New York child sexual abuse reporting laws. According to Gavagan, New York lawmakers who may fail to approve a bill meant to extend the statute of limitations for molestation cases in the state, are, in essence, giving sexual predators a free pass to continue their reign of terror on children. Should the Child Victims Act not pass, the ensuing result will be like signing a “pardon for 1,000 child rapists,” he said.

Constructed to extend the current limitation statute by five years—until survivors are 28 years of age—in both criminal and civil cases, the bill would also suspend the civil limitation statute for one-year, which would enable survivors time to file lawsuits against abusers, no matter how far back the abuse occurred. State Senator Andrew Lanza (Republican-Staten Island) introduced similar legislation in the State Senate. As we’ve previously written, the cut-off currently is age 23 and adults have five years following an alleged attack to file charges.

Assemblywoman Markey pointed out that one in every five U.S. children are sexually abused, a problem she described as “America’s dirty little secret.” And, while some sex-abuse scandals have made headlines, they’ve done little to reform outdated laws, said the Assemblywoman. “Those cases have attracted enormous attention, but there is not much new about the pattern behind the headlines,” Markey said. “Someone in a position of trust and influence over a child has violated that trust to molest or rape them … only many years after abused children become adults are they able to come to terms with what happened to them, and that means it takes place many years after our woefully short statute of limitations expire,” she added.

In December we wrote that the bill, initially introduced in 2006, has seen numerous quashing attempts from the NY Senate and Roman Catholic and Orthodox Jewish officials who opposed earlier iterations, arguing that they were unjustly aimed at religious institutions.

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