Sexual abuse survivors call on Phillips to support Child Victims Act

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Kathyrn Robb shares her story of sexual abuse as a child growing up in Manhasset during a press conference on Monday outside state Sen. Elaine Phillips office. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

Kathryn Robb, a survivor of repeated sexual assault as a child in Manhasset, said it is time state Sen. Elaine Phillips and the rest of the New York State senators take a stand against child sexual abuse.

“The time is now,” Robb said during a press conference Monday outside Phillips’ office in Mineola. “Children are suffering. The longer we wait the more our children here on Long Island are at risk.

New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators, a group made up of survivors and advocates, is urging state Senate to vote on the Child Victims Act.

Under current law, victims of child sexual abuse can’t sue predators after the victim turns 23. New York’s law is among the worst in the country for victims, Hamilton said, along with Alabama, Mississippi and Michigan.

The Child Victims Act, sponsored by state Sen. Brad Holyman and state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, expands the statute of limitations to victims who are 28 years old and the civil statute of limitations to victims up to 50 years old, according to New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators.

The act would also create a one-year window for previously unaddressed claims to be filed.

“The members of the state Legislature have a choice between protecting children and protecting predators,” said Marci Hamilton, founding member of New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators and CEO and academic director of Child USA.

The bill has passed state Assembly five times, most recently this past year, Hamilton said. It has never made it out of committee to be voted on in state Senate.

Marci Hamilton, founding member of New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators and CEO and academic director of Child USA, calls on state Sen. Phillips and her colleagues to support the Child Victims Act.
(Photo by Rebecca Klar)

New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators is calling on Phillips, along with her Republican colleagues to bring this bill to a vote. They held a second press conference on Monday in front of state Sen. Carl Marcellino’s office.

Phillips said in a statement she believes “it is time the Legislature works to find solutions to support those who have been abused.”

Phillips has been in touch with her colleagues and said she hopes to take action during the upcoming legislative session, according to the statement.

“Recognizing that most children do not disclose the abuse until they are much older, we need to lengthen the statute of limitations to protect any future victims,” Phillips said.

Robb, 57, said she was assaulted by a family member between the ages of 8 and 14. It took her until her 40s to publicly come forward with her story, she said.

Robb said the #metoo movement has shown how long adults wait to speak out about personal stories of sexual assault.

“How can we expect young children, who are sexually assaulted many times repeatedly by someone they trust, to come forward,” Robb said.

To date John Flanagan, state Senate majority leader and president, has refused to consider the Child Victims Act, according to New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators.

Efforts  to reach Flanagan were unavailing.

Marcellino said in a statement many versions of this legislation have been introduced.

The bills were “seriously discussed, considered and negotiated during the final weeks of the session,” Marcellino said, but an agreement was not reached before the session concluded.

Marcellino said he is “committed to protecting all victims of abuse, and revisiting this most serious subject when the 2018 Session begins in January,” according to a statement.

Shaun Dougherty, a United States veteran and abuse survivor, said he asking for his justice.

“I want a simple vote on a bill that I deserve,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty called out those who side with alleged predators over the victims accusing them – including President Donald Trump. Trump recently supported alleged child molester Roy Moore in an Alabama senate election.

Moore lost to Senator-Elect Doug Jones.

Dougherty said his own molester denied his predatory actions to the press. But when he faced a grand jury, Dougherty said, his predator admitted to molesting up to 12 kids.

Dougherty’s molester currently lives five minutes from his home in Pennsylvania, he said. A house that is two minutes away from a school, and the man remains unregistered, Dougherty said.

“This is because of senators like [Phillips] and Sen. Flanagan that refuse to bring this to the floor,” Dougherty said. “They’re hiding these guys in plain sight.

For Hamilton the issue is simple; when senators fail to get this legislation passed, she said, “they’re aiding hidden predators.”

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