After more than eight years of the bill passing in the New York Senate but not in the Assembly, Erin’s Law was approved in the latter body minutes ago, marking it as ready to be signed into law by Governor Cuomo. The bill had seemed to face the same fate it had in prior years, as the Assembly Education Committee, where the bill had been stalled, closed for the session late last week. However, after a push from advocates and survivors, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was moved to re-open the committee, allowing the bill to be passed through the Education Committee and out to the Assembly floor for a vote. The body voted to pass the bill 123 to 1, echoing the unanimous vote in the Senate two weeks ago.
“Only proper education and awareness can protect our kids. Erin’s Law will compliment the Child Victims Act as a necessary educational component. This bill will finally give New York’s children the tools they need to empower and protect themselves against childhood sexual abuse. Looking out for New York’s kids should be one of our highest priorities as a progressive leader of the nation. I am proud to have led the fight to champion the Child Victims Act and Erin’s Law in New York State. Let’s continue to empower our children against rampant sexual abuse, expose abusers, and break this epidemic one piece of legislation at a time,” said Gary Greenberg, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who went on to form the Fighting for Children PAC and play a key role in the passage of the Child Victims Act earlier this year. Greenberg’s PAC has held forums, press conferences, and brought Erin Merryn, the bill’s namesake, to Albany for a series of meetings.
"New York legislators finally did right by the children of New York by passing Erin's Law after 7 years of the bill dying in the Assembly. I have spent the past 7 years spending thousands of hours on the phone and sending emails to legislators and reporters, dozens of media interviews trying to pass Erin's Law in New York. The children of New York will finally have a voice and be armed with the ability to speak up and tell if they have been abused because of this education they will receive once a year under Erin's Law. Assemblyman Dinowitz promised me 7 years ago when I came to Albany that he would never give up on this bill and he didn't he kept to his promise. I told New York legislators I would never go away until they passed this. Finally after some change in leadership they did the right thing and will now be the 37th state to pass Erin's Law. None of this could have been possible without the help of celebrities Julianna Margulies and Mariska Hargitay who personally came out in support and made the calls to legislators. Julianna who did multiple media appearances demanding lawmakers do the right thing and pass it. Gary Greenberg who created Fighting for Children PAC who worked very hard putting on pressure to lawmakers and put together many press conferences and meetings to pass erin's Law along with other amazing New York advocates who worked tirelessly to see this passed. The passage of Erin's law sends a message to every sexual predator in New York and that is you will not get away with silencing children," said Erin Merryn, the survivor who founded Erin’s Law.
"We made history today in the New York Assembly. I commend the Assembly members for passing Erin's Law and setting forth the most important educational tool that will not only educate but help give a voice to children who have been victims of sexual abuse. What our educational system was lacking for decades was a sexual abuse prevention curriculum that will help break the prevalent cycle of systemic childhood sexual abuse. It's been an emotional journey for me and many New York survivors and advocates in this fight! Gary Greenberg and I have vowed to give NYS Children the lifeline that was denied to us so long ago. Thanks to the tireless work of Erin Merryn and NYS advocates for this historic moment,” said Connie Altamirano, survivor, mother and activist.
“Congratulations to Erin Merryn and Gary Greenberg for their steadfast commitment over 8 years to get Erin’s Law passed in New York. The Children of New York will be safer as a result of the Assembly passing this law. Thank you for protecting our children,” said Tara Patti on behalf of Jane Doe No More.
"We are heartened to see the New York State Legislature finally taking a significant first step toward proactively preventing sexual abuse," said Asher Lovy, director of community organizing for ZA'AKAH. "Following on the heels of the Child Victims Act, which passed nearly unanimously through the New York State Legislature, Erin's Law and the abuse prevention education it will guarantee New York's children will finally help us create and foster an environment across the state were everyone - parents, teachers, and even children themselves - are united to prevent child sexual abuse, add correctly respond when it happens."
“When we pledged to New York’s kids that we would pass Erin’s Law this session, and heard the stories of survivors who could have benefitted from this crucial curriculum, including some of our own New York legislators - it became a do-or-die scenario for Gary. Our strategy immediately shifted from “Can we pass Erin’s Law?” to “Who will lose their seats if we don’t get Erin’s Law?” Legislators finally heard our cries, and the cries of the survivors we represent, and did the right thing for New York’s kids. Thank you Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and Senator Alessandra Biaggi,” said Stephen Carpineta, Communications Director for the New York Progressive Action Network, a statewide grassroots activist group which has partnered with Greenberg in sponsoring Erin’s Law, and helped Greenberg in his fight to pass the Child Victims Act earlier this year.