The following is the transcript of a speech delivered by Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal on January 2, 2018 in front New York City’s Fearless Girl statue. The speech advocates for the passage of the Child Victims Act into law. The bill proposes extending the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to report their abuse.
“Good morning everyone. I am Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and I represent the Upper West Side and parts of the Clinton and Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods in Manhattan. And I, like so many others standing beside me today, am a fearless girl. I am a fearless girl because I will stand up to the powerful to pass the Child Victims Act into law.
CVA is, for the vast majority of the public, a just and common sense proposal. There is hardly a survivor more vulnerable or a predator more odious that a child and the person who raped them. The public does not tolerate harm to children, and even among thieves and criminals, there is a code, that children are off limits.
There is hardly a survivor more vulnerable or a predator more odious that a child and the person who raped them.
So, the fact that New York’s statute of limitations of childhood sexual assault actually favors the predators and makes it nearly impossible for those abused as children to get justice and protect the public from their predators is surprising for most people when they first learn about it.
New York is a national progressive leader, a state that sets the standard most other states follow, yet on childhood sexual assault, we are among the worst in the county.
This Child Victims Act has been around for many years – it was first introduced in 2006, and until last year, it hadn’t passed the assembly since 2008. Last year, the first year that I sponsored it, it passed by a vote of 139-7. It has never passed the State Senate; in fact, it has never even been allowed to the floor for a vote.
Mark my words, this year will be different.
We have reached a tipping point, in which we will no longer tolerate the status quo.
The cascading revelations about sexual harassment – that it pervades our society and that so few have escaped it have angered millions of Americans. We have reached a tipping point, in which we will no longer tolerate the status quo. We will no longer accept the fact predators and the institutions that harbor them are entitled to more protection than innocent children whose only fault was trusting an adult who was supposed to take care of them.
Protecting the wealthy and well connected at the expense of victims and survivors whose lives have been ruined is no longer an option. We have tolerated the abuse, the humiliation and the indignity of being denied justice for far too long.
Here in New York, we will seize this moment by passing the Child Victims Act.
This ‘Me Too’ moment is about turning silence into action.
We just saw in Alabama that the voters held an accused child predator to account by denying him a seat in the US Senate. New Yorkers and the advocates on this issue are so passionate, and I know that they will similarly hold the elected officials who protect predators and the institutions that harbor them, to account.
This ‘Me Too’ moment is about turning silence into action, it’s about taking the pain suffered silently for years by the victims of Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey and others, and turning it into action. We must catalyze this Me Too moment for child sexual assault survivors who have for years been demanding justice. This moment will not be complete unless we recognize their unique suffering and take action to address it.”
Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF- Manhattan) represents the 67th Assembly District, which includes the Upper West Side and parts of Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. She was first elected to office in 2006, and has passed more than 75 laws that have helped to improve the lives of all New York State residents.
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