The Examiner

Kesten Joins Child Victims Act Supporter in Urging for Bill’s Passage

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: Democratic Senate candidate Robert Kesten, right, appears last week with Gary Greenberg, who helped craft the Child Victims Act. The legislation has passed the Assembly but has yet to come up for a vote in the Senate. Anna Young Photo

Democratic Senate candidate Robert Kesten and child abuse survivor Gary Greenberg stood in solidarity last week blasting state officials for their refusal to support the Child Victims Act.

The legislation, which would help child sex abuse survivors seek justice as adults, has been approved in the Democratic-controlled Assembly several times with bipartisan support, including earlier this year; however, it has never come to the Senate floor for a vote.

Greenberg, an outspoken child sex abuse survivor who helped craft the legislation, said Senate Republicans have routinely blocked the bill from being voted on by keeping it in committee year after year.

“One hundred and fifty kids are being abused in the state today and it’s disgusting. The Republican Party is more interested in themselves,” Greenberg said. “It’s not a political issue but Republicans in this state have made it a political issue and if they don’t vote on it the only thing we can do is replace the ones who won’t vote.”

His frustration prompted Greenberg to create a political action committee two years ago to push for passage of the bill. His committee endorses candidates who support the measure in hopes that the Democrats win control of the chamber in November.

During a gathering at the BeanRunner Café in Peekskill last Wednesday, Greenberg announced his support for Kesten in the 40th state Senate District Democratic primary over former county Legislator Peter Harckham. For months, Kesten has urged officials to hold a special session to approve the legislation.

“If we don’t take care of people we’re not really doing the job that government was intended to do,” Kesten said.

The proposed bill eliminates the statute of limitations for prosecuting child sexual abuse crimes and filing civil lawsuits for damages against individuals, public and private institutions. The bill would allow for lawsuits to be filed until the victim is 50 years old. Currently, if a child is sexually abused, they have until the age of 23 to seek justice.

The proposed bill also allows for a one-year window for a victim to file a civil claim against their alleged abuser regardless of age, Greenberg said.

Greenberg criticized state Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) for failing to push for a vote after sharing his support for the bill two years ago.

“Shame on him,” Greenberg said. “He has done nothing to see that the Child Victims Act was passed.”

Greenberg also slammed Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not using his influence to bring lawmakers back into session to vote on the law. Greenberg added that he contributed $15,000 to Cuomo’s campaign last year after promises were made the law would reach the floor for a vote.

“What he has done is he’s supported Republicans with the Independent Democratic Conference to allow the Republicans to stay in the majority and every year the Republican Party have kept the Child Victims Act in committee,” Greenberg said. “He has a lot of power and he refuses to use it because it doesn’t serve his best interests. This governor for the last eight years has only given us lip service.”

Kesten stressed the importance of voting in the Nov. 6 election to ensure human rights issues take priority at the legislative level. He added that money and politics have prevented the Child Victims Act from moving forward. It’s a problem only the voters can change, he said.

“It should be a human issue and money gets in the way,” Kesten said. “This is about money and power and it’s really not about anything else and that’s the problem with our system, and as long as we have this unlimited amount of money being poured into a system that teeters in the wrong way, that’s a huge problem we’ll have to address.”

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