YNN NEWS: Moving Laura Cummings' Law forward

Mark Grisanti

August 23, 2011

State legislators from Western New York are pushing for legislation to help prevent a local tragedy from happening again. Laura Cummings' Law was created in honor of the developmentally disabled young woman from North Collins who was killed after years of mistreatment. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti tells us more about the legislation and why legislators are calling on their colleagues to help it move forward.

"The fact that Laura Cummings suffered abuse at the hands of her own family and ultimately was killed at the hands of her own family is unconscionable. The fact that it was preventable is even more so," said State Senator Tim Kennedy (D).

Following the death of 23-year-old Laura Cummings in January 2010, the Western New York Legislative Delegation is working to save others from suffering the same fate.
Cummings, who was developmentally disabled, suffered continuous abuse before she was murdered by her mother.

"There were warning signs, many warning signs, there were calls for help, but there was not intervention," said State Senator George Maziarz (R).

Laura Cummings' Law is geared towards making sure there is intervention in the future.

The Western New York delegation says two of the three components have been signed into law by Governor Cuomo. They allow Child and Adult Protective Services to share information about prior abuse reports and enable them to get a court order to access a home after the second report of abuse.

The third piece of the law was unanimously passed in the Senate but has not yet been taken up by the Assembly. It would create a Class A misdemeanor for denying or attempting to deny access to a potential victim with intent to conceal abuse.

"There are some people in the Assembly who are a little bit concerned that it may be going too far and that there may be unintended consequences, like some people may fall into this criminal piece of the law that we are creating here who don't necessarily fit all the requirements," said State Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D).

Senator Maziarz said,"What we're saying is, if you deny access of an individual that is developmentally disabled that is being abused, you're going to pay a criminal penalty. I don't see how you can water that down at all. I don't think you should water it down at all."

The delegation says the legislation has a broad-base of support including Assemblyman William Scarborough from Queens, who sponsored it in the Assembly.

They're optimistic they'll be able to get the bill passed in the upcoming session, and encourage voters to contact their local Assembly member to make sure it gets on the agenda.