It’s not often a reform candidate comes to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s defense.
That’s what freshman Assemblywoman Sylvia Friedman did last night when she not only defended Silver’s position on a rape bill that later proved incredibly unpopular, but said she helped persuade him to take the controversial position in the first place.
“He was in favor of ending the statute of limitations on rape on the criminal side, but not on the civil side,” Friedman said at a candidate’s forum on the Lower East Side last night.
Both the State Senate and the governor blasted the change at the time, saying that it would open the door to endless lawsuits and become a giveaway to trial lawyers.
It proved so unpopular, even among some women’s advocates, that many considered it Silver’s way of killing the negotiations entirely. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau reportedly cursed at the Assembly Speaker for insisting on it. And New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser write a column on the issue whose headline referred to Silver as a “rapist’s best friend.”
Not Silver’s fault, said Friedman: “He was the one who changed his mind and voted with us.”
I spoke with Friedman some more afterwards and here’s what she had to say.
— Azi Paybarah