Murphy backs bill to protect domestic violence victims

ALBANY, NY - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that nearly one-third of women in the United States will be victims of domestic violence during their lifetime. For Senator Terrence Murphy, even one incident is too much. In response, Senator Murphy and the New York State Senate have passed legislation to further protect victims of domestic violence. The bill (S3087), sponsored by Senator Cathy Young (R-C-I, Olean), would provide stronger protections for vulnerable domestic violence victims by allowing them to testify via closed-circuit television in criminal proceedings.

"Domestic violence is one of America's dirty little secrets," Senator Murphy said. "We try to ignore it, even dismiss it. If you assault someone you should be held responsible, and this legislation will be a valuable asset in helping to bring abusers to justice. They won't be able hide behind their lawyers or excuses anymore."

Senator Young added, "Tragically, only about 70 percent of nonfatal domestic violence incidents are reported to law enforcement. Many women feel trapped by their abusers, and some witnesses may be unable to attend court proceedings in person without risking their lives. Domestic violence victims have already been through enough and using closed circuit television so that a victim or another witness can safely confront an attacker will help more victims become survivors and lead to more convictions."

Current law only allows children who are considered vulnerable by a judge to testify via closed-circuit television. This legislation would facilitate cooperation with prosecutions, by also giving domestic violence victims the option of not having to testify in the presence of their abusers.

This bill builds upon other measures the Senate has passed to protect domestic violence victims, including a new law (S6) also sponsored by Senators Murphy and Young that was passed last year as part of the Senate's Women's Equality Agenda. The law creates a pilot program to allow domestic violence victims to obtain orders of protection through electronic means rather than having to appear in person. It also requires the Office of Court Administration to review and update its policies and services for all crime victims in the courts in order to ensure that their needs are being met and that all victims are truly protected.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.