Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr., and New York State Senator Cordell Cleare announced the introduction of two bills that would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sex trafficking, extend the window for survivors to file lawsuits, and enhance protections for survivors who are mentally disabled or incapacitated. D.A. Bragg and Human Trafficking Response Unit Chief Justin McNabney joined Senator Cleare today for a workshop on “Eradicating Human Trafficking.”
“These commonsense fixes underscore that survivors of sex trafficking are survivors of sexual violence, and deserve the same protections under New York State law,” said District Attorney Bragg. “Just as New York eliminated the statute of limitations for the most serious rape cases, it should eliminate the statute of limitations for sex trafficking. Just as New York expanded protections for mentally disabled survivors of rape, it should do the same for mentally disabled survivors of trafficking. I am proud to partner with Senator Cleare on these simple yet effective changes that would protect the New Yorkers frequently targeted by traffickers: our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Senator Cleare, said “It is my honor to partner with Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg to proactively address the wicked scourge of human trafficking by introducing a package of bills, including S.8722 to ensure that crimes can be effectively prosecuted and S.8723 to ensure adequate prosecution and punishment of those who prey on the most vulnerable. We will not rest until we eradicate this heinous practice off the face of the earth!”
Expanding Statutes of Limitations
Trauma, fear, and cultural stigmas frequently lead survivors to delay reporting to law enforcement. New York has recognized this issue by eliminating the statutes of limitation for B-felony sexual offenses, including first-degree rape and incest, as well as aggravated sexual abuse, and course of sexual conduct against a child. Similarly, in 2019 New York extended the period in which survivors of child sexual violence can commence a civil suit.
Senate Bill S8722 would provide sex trafficking survivors with the same protections as survivors of other B Felony sex offenses by removing the criminal statute of limitations for Sex Trafficking and Sex Trafficking of a Child. It would also extend the period in which survivors can commence a civil cause of action.
Protecting Mentally Disabled and Mentally Incapacitated Survivors
New York’s rape laws recognize the need for additional protections for survivors who are incapable of consent due to mental incapacity and mental disability. Our sex trafficking laws, however, only recognize children as being incapable of consent. Prosecutors are required to prove that mentally disabled or incapacitated survivors were also forced or coerced. Senate Bill S8723 would correct this by expanding the crime of Sex Trafficking of a Child, which does not require proof of force or coercion, to include Sex Trafficking of a Person Who is Mentally Disabled or Mentally Incapacitated.