- Associated Press - Thursday, June 14, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Legislation designed to help prosecutors go after sex traffickers has cleared the New York Legislature and awaits action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York and Alabama are now the only states whose trafficking laws generally require victims to testify in court. In New York, that’s because the law requires authorities to prove coercion, a high standard that usually relies on victim testimony.

Victim advocates and former prosecutors say that can re-traumatize underage victims and make it harder for authorities to win convictions because victims may refuse to testify.

The bill passed the state Assembly and Senate on Wednesday.

“This bill will make it easier for prosecutors to bring charges against those who prey on children,” said Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, who sponsored the bill in his chamber. “Our state has been a leader in treating victims of human trafficking as just that - victims - and this bill addresses this horrible exploitation of children head on.”

Cuomo, a Democrat, hasn’t weighed in on the legislation but supporters say they see no reason for him to veto it, as it’s in keeping with other anti-trafficking bills he’s signed into law.

“We support new protections that will bring human traffickers to justice and protect victims and will be reviewing this bill,” said Cuomo spokesman Tyrone Stevens.

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