On July 11, 1997, after putting her three children to bed, a 23-year-old Richmond Hill mother was awakened with a knife to her throat. There, with her babies sleeping next door, she was raped.
It happened again a few months later, this time to a 24-year-old in the same neighborhood. She was asleep in her apartment a block from where the first assault occurred when she, too, felt a knife to her neck. Both victims reported the attacks, but no suspect was found.
That’s the way this story would have ended if it hadn’t been for repeated pushes by State Senate Republicans to allow district attorneys to indict DNA evidence in lieu of a suspect being caught to extend the statute of limitation against rape. The Senate pushed bills like this for years and finally traded with Assembly Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver and got the DNA bill passed into law in 1997.
As a result, 16 years later, justice will be done. A man named Johnny Dupree was charged Friday with those rapes, thanks to a DNA match under a federally funded cold-case crime program. Dupree already is serving time in jail for burglary.
Megan’s Law is another measure that wouldn’t have passed without a Republican-dominated Senate. Named after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl raped and murdered by a neighbor, the 1995 law created New York’s sex offender registry that tells citizens when pedophiles and rapists move into their communities.
New York’s 2 percent property tax cap — it still needs mandate relief to go along with it — was a Republican initiative, as was the STAR rebate program that helped beleaguered homeowners. Charter schools came out of the Senate Republicans, as did mayoral control of New York City schools. Tax increase proposals too numerous to count were defeated by Republicans, as was a bill I worked against last year on late-term abortions for virtually any reason.
With Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, the State Legislature and the New York City Council so overwhelmingly Democratic in 2014, it’s worth remembering the tremendous value of a two-party system in New York. Indeed, a Republican-led State Senate may be needed more than ever.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a Newsday columnist and a Republican political consultant.