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Election 2018 New York Governor Cuomo

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2018 file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the New York gubernatorial debate in New York. Cuomo is running against Republican challenger Marc Molinaro. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool, File)

The sexual assault survivors' bill of rights has been signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his office announced Friday. 

The legislation ensures victims of sexual assaults know their rights, including the ability to consult with a rape crisis counselor, receive health care services at no cost and get updates on their rape kits and the status of their cases. 

It also mandates that law enforcement agencies craft policies to help communicate with survivors and establishes the victim's right to notice, which allows survivors to request and receive information on their rape kit from a law enforcement agency.

New York is the 16th state to adopt the sexual assault survivors' bill of rights originally authored by Amanda Nguyen, founder of the nonprofit Rise which advocates for sexual assault survivors. The bill in New York was sponsored by state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and state Sen. Kemp Hannon. 

"This is a great day that puts in place a missing protection for sexual assault survivors and bringing more compassion to the law enforcement response to survivors," Simotas said. 

The measure received unanimous support from the state Legislature. Cuomo had until Friday to sign or veto the legislation. 

This week, supporters of the bill pressed Cuomo to establish the sexual assault survivors' bill of rights. Nguyen, who is a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, lauded New York for "standing as an example of survivors' protections" after Cuomo signed the legislation. 

"The Rise team and I are grateful for Governor Cuomo's leadership in signing this important bill into law and standing with the 6.8 million sexual assault survivors in New York," Nguyen said. 

With Cuomo's signature, the sexual assault survivors' bill of rights will take effect in 180 days. 

The bill of rights is the latest action taken by the state to support sexual assault survivors. Earlier this year, the state budget extended the period rape kits are stored from 30 days to 20 years. The Cuomo administration has also pushed to end the backlog of rape kits in New York. The state requires that new sexual assault evidence kits are quickly tested by law enforcement with the survivor's consent. 

"In New York, we are taking important steps to ensure the security of victims and a safe environment for all women," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "This bill of rights for sexual assault survivors builds on our efforts to combat sexual assault and strengthen equal opportunities for all New Yorkers." 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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