Child Victims Act effort


Advocates hope this will be the session when the state Senate finally passes the Child Victims Act, a package of two bills that eliminate the statute of limitations for certain sexual offenses committed against minors. 

New York has one of the most stringent statute of limitations for such crimes in the country. Under the current law, child victims of sexual crimes have five years after their 18th birthday to file charges against their alleged abusers. 

Victims of the Horace Mann sexual abuse scandal and their allies have been outspoken in favor of the Child Victims Act. Due to the state’s current statute of limitations, none of the victims were able to pursue criminal or civil action against their abusers. 

At the end of last year’s session, the sponsors ended up splitting the Child Victims Act into two separate bills: one that would apply to criminal cases and another that would apply to civil cases. The civil bill would also open a one-year window for victims to initiate litigation.

The bills’ supporters and sponsors have planned a two-day lobbying event in early May to rally support, and particularly to put pressure on the senate Republicans. A spokesman for Queens Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, who has been pushing the bill for years, said sponsors will focus lobbying efforts on the civil bill because they do not expect resistance for the criminal bill. 

This year, the bills have had backing from The Daily News, which dedicated several multi-page spreads to heartbreaking stories of abuse while shaming the senate Republicans for neglecting to pass the bill. 

State Sen. Jeff Klein, who has shifted his position on the bill several times, did not answer an interview request for this article. He is currently listed as a sponsor on the civil bill, and in an interview with The Daily News late last month, he did not appear to be aware of the criminal bill. 

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, whose district includes part of Kingsbridge and is a co-sponsor of the civil bill, said he can understand the logic behind certain positions of the senate Republicans — but not this one.  

“I have no idea why they wouldn’t support this,” he said. “It is insane to me that we’re not doing this. In this case, I think we need to shame the Republicans into changing their minds.”

Mike Armstrong, the spokesman for Ms. Markey, explained that the bill has had powerful opposition. 

“The Catholic Conference has been the primary opponent of the bill,” he said, estimating that the lobbying group has spent around several hundred thousand dollars campaigning against the bill over the past few years.

Feldmeier seeks office

Former Community Board 8 member Arlene Feldmeier is running for state Assembly.

“We’ve been dividing our time between my husband’s hometown [Little Falls] and Riverdale for years and it’s an area that really needs some economic development,” Ms. Feldmeier said. 

The 101st district covers a 150-mile-long, skinny swath of the state, running from New Hartford — a similar longitude to Syracuse — to Maybrook, in Orange County. Little Falls is in the northern part of the district.  If she wins, Ms. Feldmeier said she would continue to split her time between Little Falls and the Bronx, which is about an hour from the southern part of the district. 

“I’m interested in growth, but good growth,” she said. “Growth that preserves the environment and generates good jobs, because it’s a beautiful area. It’s an area that’s been losing population and I’d like to help them grow.”

A press release announcing her candidacy described Ms. Feldmeier as “results-driven and practical” and highlighted work as a lawyer for the Social Security Administration and her ties to the military as the mother and wife to service members. The announcement also noted her 15 years on CB 8, including her time as the chair of the Public Safety Committee. So far, Ms. Feldmeier’s competition is Maria Kelso, the chair of the Delaware County Republican Committee. The district’s current representative, Republican Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, is running for Congress. 

New pain guidelines

In response to a huge spike in heroin and opioid-related deaths in New York State, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced legislation that would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue guidelines for doctors on prescribing opioids for the treatment of acute pain.

According to a press release from Ms. Gillibrand’s office, the CDC recently issued new guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain, but patients with acute injuries or who are recovering from surgery are also at risk for opioid addiction, which can lead to a heroin addiction.

“As the opioid epidemic continues to grow in New York and across the country, we can’t wait any longer to take action and curb this growing crisis,” the senator said in a statement. “Part of this epidemic can be attributed to some medical providers over-prescribing opioids. When someone gets a tooth out and only needs medication for three days — why are they sent home from the doctor’s office with 30 Percocet?”

Child Victims Act, Horace Mann School, Arlene Feldmeier, heroin, Kirsten Gillibrand, Isabel Angell