S.672 (Sanders) / A.3186 (Hevesi)
Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) supports S.672, introduced by Senator Sanders, with companion bill A.3186, introduced by Assemblyperson Hevesi, relating to a civil cause of action for human trafficking.
This bill will amend the Social Services Law and the Civil Practice Law and Rules by allowing a civil action to be brought by a trafficked victim against the perpetrator or “whoever knowingly advances or profits from, or whoever should have known he or she was advancing or profiting from,” conduct in violation of Penal Law §§ 230.33, 230.34, 230.34-a, 135.35, or 135.37. This new subsection of the Social Services Law will allow victims to recover “actual, compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, and combination of those or any other appropriate relief, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees.” Any cause of action pursuant to this new subsection may be commenced within fifteen years of the date from which the victim was freed from the trafficking situation or, in the case of a minor victim, within fifteen years after the date of attaining the age of majority.
As the awareness of the crime of sex trafficking becomes more widespread, we are learning more of the devastating effects victims endure while being trafficked and for the years following their escape from “the life.” Keith Raniere, NXIVM founder who kept victims of his sex trafficking enterprise in his Capital District home, groomed teenagers as young as 15 years of age and forced them to have sexual contact with him at his command; one victim revealed the psychological abuse she now lives with as she was “a prisoner.” Victims of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell are coming forward, exposing their victimization by the pair who was intimately connected to powerful political figures. Jared Fogle, former spokesperson for Subway, frequently met up with his victims, some as young as 14 and 15, in the Ritz Carlton and Plaza hotels in New York City. These horrific stories share a common thread: so many of these trafficking victims endured their victimization while in the State of New York. And the State of New York should do what it can to ensure that victims have a legal remedy for rebuilding and repairing their lives once they have escaped their captors: allow for a civil cause of action against those perpetrators of trafficking. Therefore, WBASNY fully supports S.672/A.3186.
WBASNY’s mission is to promote the advancement of the status of women in society and to promote the fair and equal administration of justice. As the majority of trafficked victims are women and children, WBASNY seeks to exact justice for victims of sex trafficking and will continue to be a powerful force to affect police change on issues involving women and children. With over 4,000 members strong, WBASNY speaks as one voice to advocate for equal access to justice here in the State of New York and beyond.