By Rick Pezzullo and Neal Rentz
The incumbent state senator in the 40th District and his potential Democratic opponent held separate press conferences on the same day last week advocating the passage of different legislation concerning sexual predators and their victims.
Senator Terrence Murphy (R/ Yorktown) appeared at Koegel Park in Somers last Wednesday with Somers Supervisor Rick Morrissey, Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace, Somers Councilman Anthony Cirieco and others to call for the immediate passage of a bill
creating child safety zones, a measure he contended had been stonewalled in the Assembly for years.
“The Assembly is playing politics with our kids, kids who have been victimized,” said Murphy, a father of three. “This is an issue of protecting our communities. This is common sense. These are people who are detrimental to our communities and need to be dealt with.”
Child safety zones prohibit registered sex offenders from any place where children congregate, such as schools, parks, daycare centers and houses of worship. Murphy also mentioned the need for victim safety zones, which bar a level two or three sex offender from living within 1,500 feet of their victim.
Murphy, who is seeking a second two- year term in Albany, noted currently a level two sex offender lives within 1,000 feet of Koegel Park. Recently, residents in Peekskill learned a level three sex offender on parole would be living less than 1,000 feet from his victim.
Meanwhile, Alison Boak, a Pound Ridge Democrat running next week in a primary, held an emotional press
conference last Wednesday at Mount Kisco Village Hall calling for lawmakers to pass legislation that would ease restrictions on the time childhood sexual abuse victims can report incidents.
Boak said the Child Victims Act would eliminate the statute of limitations for new child sexual abuse incidents and allow victims of past incidents one year to sue the abuser or the facility where the abuse occurred.
The legislation would also place convicted sex offenders on registries and limit their access to children, she said.
Under current state law, victims of childhood sexual abuse must report the abuse or file a lawsuit before they turn 23. Studies have indicated that it takes an average of 21 years for an abuse victim to come forward, Boak said.
“Between 70 and 90 percent of children that are trafficked into the commercial sexual industry have experienced some form of sexual abuse before they were trafficked,” said Boak, co-founder of the International Organization for Adolescents, a nonprofit organization working to eliminate human trafficking and exploitation of minors.
“What I have seen in my experience is that children who are sexually abused can lose their confidence,” she said. “They can become drug addicted to help cope with anxiety. They can’t focus so they have problems in school. They become isolated. In essence, they become perfect targets for human traffickers who prey on vulnerable children.”
During her press conference, Boak slammed Murphy for failing to fight for the Child Victims Act.
“Either you’re protecting the children or you’re protecting the predators,” she said. “Terrence Murphy is for supporting the predators. He is not supporting this bill. In fact, the Senate wouldn’t even bring this bill to the floor for a debate.”
Murphy responded through a campaign spokesman last week to his possible opponent’s criticism. Michael Jefferson said extending the statute of limitations is worthy of debate, but there shouldn’t be an unlimited timeframe.
“The most pressing question that should be answered is why when Sen. Murphy’s bipartisan legislation to enact child safety zones and victim safety zones to keep abusers away from our kids and those they’ve harmed has passed the Senate unanimously two years in a row, the Democratic Assembly majority has not brought it up for a floor vote,” Jefferson said.
Boak’s opponent in the upcoming Democratic primary, Andrew Falk, said he supported the Child Victims Act. Sexual predators “deserve a special place in hell,” he said.
“Shame on Murphy,” Falk said.
Among the supporters of the Child Victims Act who attended Boak’s event were two adults who were sexual abuse victims as children.
“In 1966, I left my home a happy young boy of seven and I went to visit my father in a hospital,” said Gary Greenberg, founder of the Fighting for Children political action committee, his voice cracking.
He was supposed to be given a tour of an X-ray room that day.
“I met an evil person. He didn’t give a tour. He brought me to hell,” Greenberg said.