A group of women who stood up against Harvey Weinstein and other sexual abusers are pushing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to support the Adult Survivors Act, which would give survivors more time to hold their abusers accountable to get justice.
Jessica Mann and Dawn Dunning, who testified against Weinstein, historically changing the system of sexual abuse and unbalanced power dynamics in Hollywood, are among the women who wrote a letter to Cuomo, along with Weinstein survivors Ambra Gutierrez and Dominique Huett.
Evelyn Yang, former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s wife, who shared that she was sexually assaulted by her OB-GYN while pregnant, is also part of the group of advocates pushing for the legislation.
The Adult Survivors Act would provide a one-year civil look-back window for time-barred adult survivors of sex abuse.
The Adult Survivors Act is modeled after the Child Victims Act, which provides sex abuse survivors 17 years old and younger, one year to sue their abuser in civil court, even after the statute of limitations has expired. Last week, Cuomo signed legislation extending the look-back window of the Child Victims Act another year.
“Adult survivors, ages 18 and older, deserve and demand the same,” the letter reads, in part.
The letter comes shortly after many Weinstein survivors criticized a recent proposed settlement, aided by the New York Attorney General, that would have awarded some women with a shared multi-million-dollar settlement, but was rejected by a judge, who strongly came against the terms of the deal.
“The idea that Harvey Weinstein can get a defense fund ahead of the claimants is obnoxious. The idea you can regulate the claims of people not in the settlement — I can’t subscribe to that,” the judge said when rejecting the settlement, which many survivors felt would have let Weinstein off easily, as insurance company funds would have been used to pay off the remaining claims in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy.
“We can’t rely on judges to correct mistakes of law enforcement,” Wednesday’s letter to Cuomo reads. “We need to take the law into our own hands, and that means passing the Adult Survivors Act.”
Meanwhile, as the group of activists fights for the rights of sexual abuse survivors, Weinstein is expected to appear at a New York hearing this Friday, where plans for extradition by the Los Angeles D.A.’s office will be determined. Weinstein, who is currently serving a 23-year sentence in New York prison, convicted for rape in the third-degree and sexual assault in the first-degree, faces five additional charges in L.A. This week, his lawyer said he will fight to keep his client from being moved to California, citing fears of surging coronavirus cases in the state prison system.
Read the letter to Cuomo, in full, below:
To Governor Cuomo:
We are writing today to urge you to support the Adult Survivors Act (ASA): legislation that will allow time-barred adult survivors of sex abuse one year to sue in civil court.
The ASA builds on New York’s Child Victims Act (CVA) look back window, which you extended last week. The CVA, as you know, is powerful legislation that has given child survivors (those 17 years old and younger) of sex abuse time to hold their abusers accountable and get the justice they so rightfully deserve. Adult survivors, ages 18 and older, deserve and demand the same.
For many of us, traditional paths to seeking justice left us further victimized. Prosecutors failed us. We cooperated with the police and they failed us. We gathered evidence. We procured a criminal indictment. We sat through hours of investigations. And, yet, nothing happened then to the men who abused us and the institutional powers that protected them.
In fact, a recent settlement by Attorney General Letitia James went further in protecting Weinstein’s defense fund than the countless women he tried to destroy. This is an insult to survivors and thankfully Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected the settlement in a blistering rebuke but time is not on our side. We can’t rely on judges to correct the mistakes of law enforcement. We need to take the law into our own hands. That means passing the Adult Survivors Act.
You have a chance to stand with survivors and say sweetheart deals such as those offered to Harvey Weinstein and former Dr. Robert Hadden, deserve renewed attention and those impacted by abusive men deserve a fair and real chance at seeking justice.
Thanks to your leadership, many survivors in New York are on the pathway to healing. We need you to be an active player in expanding the rights of survivors of all ages. Support the Adult Survivors Act and let us right the wrongs of the past and hold our abusers accountable.
Jessica Mann, survivor and activist
Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, survivor
Dominique Huett, #MeToo activist
Dawn Dunning, activist
Evelyn Yang, survivor
Marissa Hoechstetter, survivor
Mia Kirshner, actress, writer and social activist
Carrie Goldberg, founder of Victims’ Rights Law Firm C.A. Goldberg, PLLC
Sara Ziff, founder of the Model Alliance
Carre Otis, survivor and member of Model Alliance Leadership Council
Kai Braden, survivor and member of Model Alliance Leadership Council
Shivani Persad, advocate and member of Model Alliance Leadership Council
Paula Williams, activist