Founders of the Time’s Up anti-harassment and abuse movement joined Governor Cuomo today in calling for passage of laws that would make it easier to bring rape and sexual abuse cases to court. Supporters see the measures helping victims get justice.
Should grabbing a women’s breasts in public or a workplace be the basis for a criminal charge or lawsuit? How about exposing oneself? Maybe not. Current language in New York’s rape and abuse laws says behavior has to be severe and pervasive.
“You have some despicable acts that have been performed, repeatedly, where the court has determined they’re not severe enough or pervasive enough. They’re only sporadic, the court has determined. Oh, so I can sporadically sexually harass someone as long as I don’t go so far as it becomes pervasive.”
Governor Cuomo joined founders of the Time’s Up movement and abuse victims to call on the legislature to pass measures that would change such language for second and third degree rape charges. Second Degree means no consent can be given because a victim is unconscious or drugged; third degree, no consent was given for unwanted sexual acts. Actress Miro Sorvino – a stated Harvey Weinstein victim – says other victims could be spared.
“Please, please, please lawmakers do your duty to prevent people from committing further rapes because most rapists will rape again. If someone has committed a date rape, if someone has forced themselves on someone in a coercive situation, where maybe he didn’t use physical force but he used other psychological weapons, that person is not going to stop acting like that. That’s not a one-time kind of behavior. It’s a serious problem that will continue if not checked.”
They’re also calling for passage of a companion measure that would extend the statute of limitations for certain rape and abuse cases past the current five years.
Sorvino adds it can take time for victims to come forward.
“Not only was I a sexual harassment and battery victim at the hands of Mr. Weinstein, I’m also a sexual assault victim and I am also a survivor of date rape. I have never said that last part, ever, in public, because it is impossible sometimes to share these sort of things and I’m doing it here to try and help, because there are all these survivors out there who need justice.”
Governor Cuomo believes in New York, which he calls the progressive capital of the nation, the time for change on sexual harassment and abuse is now. The state legislature session is set to end next week.