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New York Senate’s power struggle in 2009 may have doomed child-abuse law reform

ALBANY — The best chance in recent years to pass legislation to help child sex abuse survivors may have fallen victim to a 2009 state Senate leadership coup that threw the chamber into chaos.

Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Westchester) was carrying a bill to make it easier for victims to bring lawsuits and wanted then-Senate Democratic Majority Conference Leader John Sampson to move the bill to the floor through the Rules Committee he controlled before the legislative session ended in late June.

But on June 8, 2009, Democratic Sens. Pedro Espada (D-Bronx) and Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) — who were convicted years later on federal corruption charges — shockingly joined with Republicans to give the GOP control of the chamber. Monserrate quickly jumped back to the Dems, leaving the Senate gridlocked for a month, with both sides having 31 members.

By the time the matter was resolved and Espada rejoined the Dems, the Child Victims Act was no longer in play as lawmakers just wanted to get done and leave Albany for the year.

“A lot of things got messed up that year,” Hassell-Thompson said in a recent interview.

A year later, with the Democrats still in charge, the bill was sent to the powerful Codes Committee, which at the time was chaired by Eric Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat who is now the state attorney general.

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