New York state senator proposes constitutionally questionable child-sex abuse law to prosecute child-sex predators

By Kenneth Lovett (NY Daily News)
June 4, 2016

ALBANY — Making the fight for justice for child sex abuse victims even murkier, a Staten Island lawmaker wants to make it easier to bring criminal cases against predators — even though he admits his idea is likely unconstitutional.

Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island), who has carried an alternate version of the Child Victims Act supported by the Church but opposed by advocates, said he would support a provision that would create a time frame for prosecutors to charge predators criminally even though the statute of limitations has run out on their cases.

“The criminal standard is beyond a reasonable doubt, which would afford defendants the strongest due process rights in the world,” Lanza said.

But he admits it’s legally dicey.

“It would need to be challenged in court in order for it to be struck down,” he said. “I’m not sure there isn’t some wiggle room there.”

Activist and child sex abuse survivor Kathryn Robb, 56, accused Lanza of using “smoke and mirrors” to make it look like he’s doing something by putting forth a plan he knows isn’t constitutional.

Lanza opposes a different look-back that advocates like Robb want that would give child sex abuse survivors who can no longer bring a civil lawsuit under current law a year to bring cases.

Like a number of other lawmakers, Lanza fears that faded memories and the death of witnesses could impact the due process rights of those being sued.

“I know I’m putting myself in harm’s way here, depending on how this is written, but people have said, ‘do you really believe someone would lie about something like this?’” the former prosecutor said. “What I know unfortunately about people, especially when it comes to bringing lawsuits, is people lie about anything when money is involved.”

Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy, whose conference has pushed more comprehensive legislation, said of Lanza’s plan: “We don't need fake reforms that won't accomplish anything. I would hope that Sen. Lanza and his Senate Republicans would get out of the way and allow the real Child Victims Act to the floor.”