Provides a private right of action against a person who intentionally discloses the identity of a victim of a sex crime.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the civil rights law, in relation to a private right of action for the intentional disclosure of the identity of a victim of a sex crime
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one of the bill amends §50-b of the Civil Rights Law to allow for release of certain documents where they are sufficiently redacted to prevent identification of a victim of a sexual offense.
section two of the bill amends §50-C of the Civil Rights Law to clarify who has a cause of action when the victim's identity is intentionally disclosed in violation of the Civil Rights Law.
Section 3 is the enacting provision.
JUSTIFICATION: During the 1991 legislative session, §50-b of the Civil Rights Law was amended and a new §50-C was added. Section 50-b had protected against the disclosure of the identity of the victim of a sex offense who had been under the age of eighteen at the time of the alleged commission of the offense. As amended, §50-b pertains to all victims of sex offenses, irrespective of age.
The intent of §50-b is obvious - that the government should not permit disclosures of records that would identify victims of sex offenses. Nevertheless, the language of §50-b is so broad that any record containing the name or other identifier pertaining to a victim must be withheld see Fappiano v. New York City Police Department, 95 NY2d 738, (2001).
As a consequence, while victims' identities have been protected, so have the identities of defendants. While §50-b is clearly well-intentioned, it should not be used as a shield against disclosure of all information relating to the alleged commission of a sex offense and it certainly should not be used to protect defendants.
Due to the breadth and vagueness of the current statute, public officials have been reluctant to disclose any information concerning sex offenses for fear of litigation. To reduce the chilling effect of the statute it requires further clarification.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2005-06: S.4907-A Senate Codes Cmte./A.10614 Assembly Governmental Operations Cmte. 2007-08: S.892 Senate Codes Cmte./A.4610 Assembly Governmental Operations Cmte. 2009-10: S.1686 Reported and Committed to Codes/A.2911 Governmental Operations Cmte.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2482 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 21, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. FLANAGAN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes AN ACT to amend the civil rights law, in relation to a private right of action for the intentional disclosure of the identity of a victim of a sex crime THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 50-b of the civil rights law, as amended by chapter 320 of the laws of 2006, is amended to read as follows: 1. The identity of any victim of a sex offense, as defined in article one hundred thirty or section 255.25, 255.26 or 255.27 of the penal law, or of an offense involving the alleged transmission of the human immuno- deficiency virus, shall be confidential. No report, paper, picture, photograph, court file or other documents, in the custody or possession of any public officer or employee, which identifies such a victim shall be made available for public inspection. No such public officer or employee shall disclose any portion of any police report, court file, or other document, which tends to identify such a victim except as provided in subdivision two of this section. WHERE ANY REPORT, PAPER, PICTURE, PHOTOGRAPH, COURT FILE, POLICE REPORT OR OTHER DOCUMENT WHICH IDENTIFIES OR TENDS TO IDENTIFY SUCH VICTIM MAY BE SUFFICIENTLY REDACTED TO INSURE SUCH VICTIM IS NOT IDENTIFIED SUCH DOCUMENT MAY BE DISCLOSED ONLY TO ASSIST LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES IN INVESTIGATING AND PROSECUTING SUCH OFFENSE. S 2. The opening paragraph of section 50-c of the civil rights law is designated subdivision 1 and a new subdivision 2 is added to read as follows: 2. IF THE IDENTITY OF THE VICTIM OF A SEX OFFENSE IS INTENTIONALLY DISCLOSED IN VIOLATION OF SECTION FIFTY-B OF THIS ARTICLE AND HAS NOT OTHERWISE BEEN DISCLOSED, THE VICTIM, OR IF THE VICTIM IS DECEASED THEEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD08457-01-1 S. 2482 2
VICTIM'S FAMILY, WHOSE IDENTITY WAS DISCLOSED MAY BRING AN ACTION TO RECOVER DAMAGES ACTUALLY SUFFERED BY REASON OF SUCH WRONGFUL DISCLOSURE. IN ANY ACTION BROUGHT UNDER THIS SECTION, THE COURT MAY AWARD REASONABLE ATTORNEY'S FEES TO A PREVAILING PLAINTIFF. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.