A step in the right direction: Cuomo signs law establishing a “bill of rights” for survivors of sexual assault

On December 21, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to establish a sexual assault survivors’ bill of rights, for the purposes of informing survivors of their rights under state law and ensuring that survivors receive the information needed to navigate the medical and criminal legal systems.

The bill of rights includes the right to:

  • Consult with a rape crisis or victim assistance organization;
  • Access appropriate health care services at no cost; and
  • Receive updates on their sexual offense evidence kit and the status of their case.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislature for enacting this bill into law,” says Selena Bennett-Chambers, Public Policy Director at the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “Recent reports of survivors of sexual violence being improperly billed by several hospitals for forensic rape examinations support the need for this law. In addition, providing survivors of sexual violence with the right to receive information regarding the status of their kits from a designee of a police or prosecutorial agency, who is trained in trauma and victim response, is a huge step in the right direction. Survivors of sexual violence should be supported in knowing their rights and their rights must be upheld.”