CHILD VICTIMS ACT

February 22, 2019 at 4:30 am

Sen. Alessandra Biaggi joins us to discuss the newly passed Child Victims Act, her personal story as a survivor of sexual abuse, and her new role in government.

Aired on February 21, 2019. 

Transcript Print

>>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
IT WAS A MOMENT SURVIVORS OF
CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE HAVE LONG
WAITED FOR AND IT HAPPENED AS
GOVERNOR CUOMO SIGNED THE CHILD
VICTIM'S ACT INTO LAW.
THE LEGISLATION PASSED
UNANIMOUSLY ON JANUARY 28 WITH
DEMOCRATS UNDER CONTROL.
THE LAW EXTENDS THE STATUTE OF
LIMITATIONS ALLOWING VICTIMS
SIGNIFICANTLY MORE TIME TO SEEK
JUSTICE.
THE FIGHT TO PASS THE CHILD
VICTIM'S ACT HAS BEEN A PERSONAL
ONE FOR SEVERAL LAWMAKERS
INCLUDING OUR FIRST GUEST
TONIGHT, FRESHMAN STATE SENATOR
SPOKE ABOUT THE SEXUAL ABUSE
THAT SHE EXPERIENCED AS A CHILD.
>> THE SHAME THAT ABUSE CREATES
TURNS OFTEN TIMES INTO SILENCE
AND WITHOUT A SYSTEM THAT
ENCOURAGES AND PROTECTS VICTIMS
WHO SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES, THE
TRAUMA MANIFESTS INTO MANY
DIFFERENT FORMS.
FOR ME, THAT SILENCE LASTED FOR
25 YEARS.
AND IT IS ALMOST UNTHINKABLE
THAT I CAN STAND HERE AS A NEW
YORK STATE SENATOR TO SPEAK
ABOUT SOMETHING THAT I THOUGHT I
WOULD PROBABLY TAKE TO MY GRAVE.
OUR POLITICAL CLIMATE
NECESSITATES A RESPONSIBILITY
THAT REALLY MEANS THAT THIS
ISSUE IS NO LONGER A HIM OR HER
PROBLEM.
>> SENATOR, WELCOME TO THE
PROGRAM.
>> I WAS JUST WATCHING THAT
THINKING WHO IS THAT WOMAN?
>> LET ME START WITH THAT.
TAKE US BACK TO THAT MOMENT.
WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE FOR YOU
WHEN YOU WERE MAKING THAT
SPEECH?
WAS THAT THE FIRST TIME YOU EVER
MADE THAT EXPERIENCE?
>> IT WASN'T THE FIRST TIME I
MADE THAT EXPERIENCE PUBLIC.
I ACTUALLY WAS VERY THOUGHTFUL
ABOUT HOW I WOULD SHARE IT AND
WHEN I WOULD SHARE IT AND TO
WHAT DEGREE I WOULD SHARE IT.
IN MY CAMPAIGN I SAY I AM A
SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVOR WITHOUT
OTHER DETAILS.
BEING ABLE TO TAKE MY CAMPAIGN
EXPERIENCE AND BRING MY
EXPERIENCE TO THE FLOOR AND TO
EXPLAIN MY VOTE ON THE CHILD
VICTIMS ACT WAS A
TRANSFORMATIONAL EXPERIENCE
BECAUSE SOMEONE WHO EXPERIENCED
THIS ABUSE, YOU'RE SILENCED AND
SHAMED.
TO THINK THAT I WOULD SPEAK
ABOUT IT RIGHT HERE ONE-ON-ONE
OR WITH A FRIEND WOULD NEVER
CROSS MY MIND.
I REALLY DID THINK THIS WOULD BE
SOMETHING I WOULD TAKE TO MY
GRAVE.
THAT TO ME WAS A FREEING OF ONE
OF THE SHACKLES THAT OFTEN COMES
WITH ABUSE.
>> THERE WERE OTHER LEGISLATORS
WHO TALKED ABOUT THEIR
EXPERIENCES OF SEXUAL ABUSE AS
CHILDREN.
THREE ASSEMBLY MEMBERS DID, AS
WELL.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE IMPACT OF
YOUR COLLECTIVE TESTIMONY HAD ON
THE OVERWHELMING PASSAGE OF THIS
BILL?
>> I WANTED TO SAY THAT I DIDN'T
KNOW THAT AT THE SAME TIME I WAS
GIVING MY TESTIMONY IN THE
SENATE CHAMBERS THAT IN THE
ASSEMBLY CHAMBERS THERE WERE
THREE VERY BRAVE ASSEMBLY WOMEN
DOING THE SAME THING.
>> YOU ARE EMBARRASSED,
RESENTFUL.
YOU FEEL ALONE.
YOU HOPE IT GOES AWAY, BUT IT
NEVER DOES.
IT NEVER DOES.
AND ON BEHALF OF SURVIVORS, I
WANT TO THANK THE ORIGINAL
SPONSORS AS WELL AS THE CURRENT
SPONSORS FOR NEVER GIVING UP ON
GETTING US JUSTICE.
I HOPE PEOPLE REALIZE THIS
IS
NOT AN ATTACK ON AN INSTITUTION.
IT IS TO PROTECT VICTIMS AND
HELP CHILDREN AND MAKE SOMEBODY
FEEL MORE WHOLE AGAIN.
>> IT WASN'T UNTIL AFTER WE LEFT
THE CHAMBER THAT PEOPLE SAID DID
YOU SEE, HEAR, KNOW.
THIS IS A ISSUE I LIVED WITH
EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE AND IT
EFFECTS ME EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE.
I NEVER FELT MORE PROTECTED THAN
I DID IN THAT MOMENT.
IT WAS A MOMENT WHERE I DIDN'T
FEEL ALONE.
I WENT OUT IN MY WORDS NOT ON A
LIMB BUT WENT OUT SAYING IT
DOESN'T MATTER IF SOMEBODY SAYS
SOMETHING OR DOESN'T, I HAVE TO
SAY THIS.
THE FACT THAT IT WAS ALSO
HAPPENING SPEAKS VOLUMES.
>> THE BILL WAS GOING TO PASS.
DO YOU THINK YOUR TESTIMONY HAD
SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT?
>> I DON'T THINK MY TESTIMONY
HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE
BILL PASSING.
REGARDLESS OF WHETHER WE PASS
THE BILL OR NOT WE DID HAVE THE
VOTES AND IT WAS UNANIMOUS WHICH
WAS AN ISSUE OF WHY THAT WAS
FRUSTRATING.
I'M GLAD IT CAME TO THE FLOOR
AND THAT WE DID VOTE
UNANIMOUSLY.
I THINK IT SENDS A MESSAGE THAT
IF YOU ARE LISTENING OR YOU HEAR
ABOUT THIS YOU DON'T HAVE TO
SUFFER IN SILENCE.
THAT IS THE MESSAGE.
>> TELL US QUICKLY WHAT'S IN
THIS BILL?
>> SO THE BILL BASICALLY EXTENDS
THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN
CRIMINAL CASES AS WELL AS CIVIL
CASES TO BE 28 YEARS OLD TO 55
YEARS OLD.
>> FROM WHAT AGE.
>> I BELIEVE IT WAS 23.
>> YOU ALSO HAVE A LOOK BACK.
IF YOU ARE NO MATTER WHAT AGE
YOU ARE, IF YOU ARE A CHILD
SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVOR YOU NOW
HAVE A YEAR TO BRING A CASE.
WE ALL KNOW HOW DIFFICULT ABUSE
CASES ARE, DISCRIMINATION CASES
ARE.
YOU NEED INCREDIBLE AMOUNTS OF
EVIDENCE.
SO IT IS GOING TO BE INTERESTING
TO SEE HOW THIS PLAYS OUT.
WHAT IT DEFINITELY DOES DO IS IT
PROVIDES A LEGAL REMEDY FOR
PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN HARMED
WHICH WAS NOT IN EXISTENCE
BEFORE.
>> IT TOOK OVER TEN YEARS FOR
THIS BILL TO PASS.
WHY?
WHAT WERE THE OBSTACLES?
>> THREE LETTERS, THE I.D.C.
FOR THOSE WHO DON'T KNOW, THE
INDEPENDENT DEMOCRATIC
CONFERENCE WAS FORMED IN 2010 BY
EIGHT STATE SENATORS WHO WERE
DEMOCRATS.
THEY WERE ELECTED AS DEMOCRATS
IN THEIR DISTRICT AND THEY WENT
TO ALBANY AND CAUCUSED AND
CONFERENCED WITH REPUBLICANS.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
IT MATTERS BECAUSE IT TOOK AWAY
THE NUMERICAL MAJORITY IN THE
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS AND GAVE IT
TO THE REPUBLICANS ALLOWING THE
REPUBLICANS TO CONTROL THE STATE
SENATE IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK
FOR MANY YEARS.
IT WASN'T UNTIL 2016 THAT PEOPLE
STARTED TO SAY WE HAVE THIS
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GOING OFF THE
RAILS.
WHAT DO WE DO IN OUR OWN BACK
YARDS REALIZING IT EXISTED.
THERE WERE EIGHT CHALLENGERS TO
THESE INDIVIDUALS ON EVERY
SINGLE RACE WAS SUCCESSFUL.
MINE WAS SUCCESSFUL AND I RAN
AGAINST THE CREATOR, THE FOUNDER
OF THE I.D.C.
>> IF WE HAVE TIME WE'LL TALK
ABOUT THAT.
BUT BECAUSE WE ARE SHORT OF
TIME, LET ME ASK YOU, IF IT'S
GOOD TO EXTEND THE STATUTE OF
LIMITATIONS TO ALLOW PEOPLE MORE
TIME TO SEEK JUSTICE, WHY DO YOU
HAVE THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
AT ALL?
THERE WAS A REPUBLICAN SENATOR
WHO PROPOSED AN AMENDMENT TO
ELIMINATE THE STATUTE OF
LIMITATIONS.
WHY NOT?
>> I THINK IT OPENS IT UP TO, I
DON'T WANT TO SAY IT IS NOT A
PARADE OF HORRIBLES.
I THINK THE WAY THAT CERTAIN
CASES HAVE TO BE BROUGHT IS
WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF STATUTE OF
LIMITATIONS AND EACH ISSUE OR
ABUSE OR CRIME HAS A SET STATUTE
OF LIMITATIONS IN THE LAW THAT
ALLOWS FOR PROCEDURE TO BE
FOLLOWED.
I THINK THIS IS ONE OF THOSE
INSTANCES.
I THINK THAT I HEAR THE
UNDERSTANDING OF ELIMINATING THE
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS AND MAYBE
AS TIME GOES ON, MAYBE WE WILL
SUPPORT THAT.
>> ANOTHER THING THAT THIS SAME
SENATOR PROPOSED, REPUBLICAN,
HER NAME IS KATHERINE YOUNG.
SHE PROPOSED THAT A FUND BE MADE
FOR THE VICTIMS OF THOSE
VICTIMIZED WHO WERE EITHER DEAD
OR HAD NO MONEY.
THAT ALSO FAILED.
WHY?
>> ANYTIME A BILL HAS A FISCAL
IMPACT WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT
WHETHER WE ARE CREATING A
MANDATE WITHOUT MONEY THAT IS
SET ASIDE.
THE FIRST THING IS TO MIKE SURE
THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE CHILD SEXUAL
ABUSE SURVIVORS AND PEOPLE WHO
NEVER CAME FORWARD HAVE A LEGAL
RECOURSE TO BE ABLE TO GO TO
COURT AND MAKE THEMSELVES WHOLE
IF THEY SO CHOOSE.
I THINK THAT IT'S NOT A BAD IDEA
BY ANY MEANS.
I THINK THAT WE HAVE TO MAKE
SURE THAT WE HAVE MONEY IN THE
BUDGET TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT.
>> THAT MIGHT BE SOMETHING THAT
YOU MIGHT VISIT SOMETIME IN THE
FUTURE.
>> I WANT TO SAY THAT THAT TIES
CLOSELY TO THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT
HEARING.
IN NEW YORK CITY I LED ON THE
SENATE SIDE THE SEXUAL
HARASSMENT HEARINGS THAT WAS A
JOINT HEARING OF THE ASSEMBLY
AND THE SENATE AND IT WAS THE
FIRST TIME IN 27 YEARS THAT WE
HAD A HEARING ON SEXUAL
HARASSMENT IN THE STATE OF NEW
YORK.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT KEPT
COMING UP WAS THE COMPARISON TO
SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND SEXUAL
HARASSMENT VICTIMS TO WE HAVE AN
IMMIGRANT DEFENSE FUND AND
IMMIGRANTS IN THE STATE OF NEW
YORK AND WE CREATED THE LEGAL
FUND TO PROTECT THEM.
PERHAPS WE CAN DO THE SAME HERE.
THAT IS UNFORTUNATELY SOMETIMES
WHY PEOPLE DON'T COME FORWARD
BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE THE
LEGAL REPRESENTATION.
IT'S NOT OFF THE TABLE.
>> IT'S BEEN A PRETTY BUSY
COUPLE OF MONTHS FOR YOU AND
YOUR COLLEAGUES UP THERE IN
ALBANY.
YOU PASSED A NUMBER OF THINGS
LIKE A PACKAGE OF VOTING REFORM
BILLS, REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT,
THE GREEN ACT, SCHOLARSHIP AND
STATE MONEY TO UNDOCUMENTED
STUDENTS AND THE CHILD VICTIMS
ACT.
IS THIS WHAT YOU EXPECTED WOULD
HAPPEN?
>> I ANYHOW THAT WE WERE GOING
TO BE OFF TO A VERY QUICK AND
EXCITING START.
I DID NOT THINK THAT WE WOULD
GET THIS MUCH DONE IN A SHORT
AMOUNT OF TIME.
WE HAVE PASSED PROBABLY 50% OF
THE BILLS THAT I CAMPAIGNED ON.
THAT IS UNHEARD.
THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN FOR A FRESH
347B STATE SENATOR TO SAY WE
CAMPAIGNED ON THESE THINGS AND
DELIVERED.
THERE ARE MANY ISSUES TO STILL
DEAL WITH.
IT IS A REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE
BECAUSE IT SHOWS YOU THAT WHEN
YOU ELECT PEOPLE WHO HAVE
ALIGNED VALUES, YOU GET TO
THINGS THAT YOU WANTED IN THE
STATE OF NEW YORK IN TERMS OF
LAWS SO THIS IS EXCITING.
>> I HAVE A MILLION OTHER
QUESTIONS BUT WE ARE ALL OUT OF
TIME.
WE'LL HAVE YOU BACK.
>> I WOULD LOVE TO BE BACK.
THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

WNET

© 2019 WNET All Rights Reserved.

825 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019