Senate Passes Legislation To Protect Domestic Violence Victims

Martin J. Golden

October 23, 2007

The New York State Senate yesterday passed legislation (S.4875), sponsored by Senator Cathy Young (R-C-I, Olean) that would provide victims of domestic violence greater protection by allowing them to testify in court via closed-circuit television.

"To break the cycle of abuse, victims should be in a non-threatening environment when giving testimony. They shouldn’t be stared down by someone who has physically and emotionally tortured them. Closed circuit testimony will help ensure that justice will be served," said Senator Cathy Young.

"The Senate Majority Task Force on Critical Choices is taking an aggressive approach to safeguard all New Yorkers from violence," said Task Force Chairman Senator Marty Golden (R-C, Brooklyn). "We have advanced an aggressive criminal justice agenda this year, including cracking down on Internet predators; locating criminals who are missing from the Sex Offender Registry; ensuring student safety on school buses; and raising penalties for thugs who attack senior citizens. We are taking another aggressive step with this domestic violence bill which will keep women who have already suffered so much from becoming victims again in the courtroom."

Senator Young’s legislation was introduced this April at a Capitol news conference, in observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, where members of the Senate Majority were joined by Mrs. New York State 2007 Lori Donaudy of Smithtown, Long Island. A former victim of domestic abuse, Lori’s platform as Mrs. New York includes raising awareness of domestic violence, supporting victims, and raising funds for Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation.

Over two-thirds of domestic violence crimes against women are committed by someone known to them. Very often, vulnerable witnesses are reluctant to testify about crimes that have been committed against them out of fear. Allowing these witnesses to testify via closed-circuit television may help their willingness to come forward and testify. The bill was sent to the Assembly.