ALBANY — State Senate Republicans are beginning to feel political heat for preventing a vote on legislation that would help victims of child sexual abuse obtain justice.
At least four Democratic candidates for Senate issued statements this week attacking GOP incumbents for opposing the Child Victims Act, which would eliminate the statute of limitations for cases of child sexual abuse and allow a one-year window for victims to revive old civil cases.
“It is outrageous that Carl Marcellino voted against the Child Victims Act and is defending the criminals who abused these defenseless children,” James Gaughran, who is taking on the senator from Nassau County, said in a statement.
Similar statements were issued by Democrats Sara Niccoli, who is challenging Sen. George Amedore of Schenectady County; Christopher Eachus, who’s challenging Sen. Bill Larkin of Orange County; and Ryan Cronin, who is taking on Sen. Kemp Hannon of Nassau County.
The statements, some of which were first reported by Time Warner Cable News, came after GOP senators successfully blocked a Democrat-led effort Monday to force a floor vote on an omnibus bill that included the key components of the Child Victims Act.
“This bill would deliver justice for innocent victims of child sex abuse and hold perpetrators of horrible crimes accountable,” Niccoli said.
Eachus said it was “shameful” that Larkin voted “in lockstep” with Republicans on the issue.
Cronin said Hannon should be “ashamed of himself” for blocking legislation that “would bring heinous criminals to justice and provide closure to thousands of New Yorkers who have been preyed upon as children.”
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif accused Democrats of exploiting a serious issue for political gain.
“In the meantime, Senate Republicans will continue to work extraordinarily hard to protect the victims of sexual assault — just as we have always done,” Reif said.
Amedore spokeswoman Eileen Miller also insisted the senator did not vote against the Child Victim’s Act on Monday.
“The Senate took a procedural vote on whether an amendment was germane to the bill before the house,” Miller said about Monday. “There are several pieces of legislation under consideration to address this important issue that Sen. Amedore would support. He is fully committed to protecting all victims of abuse, and to suggest anything less for political gain is desperate.”
Senate Republican officials have not ruled out a vote on the Child Victims Act before the Legislature ends its session June 16 but have expressed concerns that removing the statute of limitations and giving a one-year look-back would cause a flood of unsubstantiated claims.
At least one Democrat, Sen. Neil Breslin of Albany, has also expressed concerns about the impact of the bill. He remains undecided. Breslin, however, told The News that he sided with the Democrats Monday because he thought the matter should be debated on the floor.
Other bills before the Senate and Assembly would also remove or extend the statute of limitations without granting the look-back window.