Senator Timothy M. Kennedy, D-58th District, announced the Senate unanimously approved Jay J’s Law by a vote of 57-0. Jay J’s Law (S.6508/A.9488), which Senator Kennedy authored, will crackdown on repeat child abuse and enact far stiffer penalties for violent offenders who repeatedly hurt children.

Jay J’s Law is named for Jay J. Bolvin, a little boy from Western New York who suffered severe physical abuse at the hands of his own father. The violent attacks left Jay J with 11 fractured bones, a severe seizure disorder and developmental delays, but his abuser – who had been previously convicted of abusing another one of his children – was let off with a relatively light sentence due to a gap in state law.

For months, Jay J’s family has been leading a grassroots advocacy campaign, urging the State Legislature to pass Jay J’s Law and protect children across the state. In addition to their frequent phone calls, emails and letters to lawmakers, Jay J’s grandparents Joseph and Tabitha Retzer and Uncle Kevin and Aunt Chris Retzer visited Albany with Jay J last month to lobby for support. Through their relentless efforts, they secured bipartisan, statewide support for the legislation. More than 20 Senators and over 60 Assembly members signed on as cosponsors of the legislation. Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak is the lead Assembly sponsor.
Senator Kennedy spoke on the Senate floor to discuss the public safety impact of Jay J’s Law:

“Jay J and his family have been the driving forces behind the movement to pass Jay J’s Law,” said Senator Kennedy. “The bravery of little Jay J in his recovery from the abuse he suffered and the boundless support of his family – those are the reasons Jay J’s Law has passed the Senate. This legislation will fix state law to better protect victims of child abuse and ensure justice is served. Jay J’s Law will send the message that New York State won’t tolerate child abuse. A person who inflicts such suffering upon a child must be harshly punished for their deplorable behavior.

“We’re thrilled our colleagues in the Senate have joined us in taking action against child abuse,” Kennedy added. “We’re hopeful the Assembly will do the right thing and ensure Jay J’s Law moves through their chamber and onto the Governor’s desk for his signature this session. I thank the Western New York Delegation and my colleagues across the state for supporting Jay J’s Law in our collective efforts to protect New York’s children.”

“Jay J’s Law is a common-sense bill to make sure violent abusers are punished severely for hurting children. It won’t change the suffering Jay J went through – or the struggles he faces now – but Jay J’s Law will help protect children across New York State,” said Jay J’s Uncle Kevin Retzer. “When we visited the State Capitol, many lawmakers committed their support to us. We’re thrilled to see the State Senate has already made good on their word and passed Jay J’s Law. We want to thank Senator Kennedy and the Western New York Senate Delegation for working so hard on behalf of Jay J We also want to thank all of the Senators who put their support behind the bill and helped us move Jay J’s Law another step closer to becoming state law.

“Now that the Senate has approved Jay J’s Law, we urge the Assembly to take up this measure and pass Jay J’s Law. It is critically important to the safety of our children,” Retzer added. “We hope even more of our friends and neighbors in Western New York and across the state will speak up for Jay J and all children and help us push this bill through the Assembly.”

Jay J’s Law will crackdown on repeat child abuse in the following ways:

  • Jay J’s Law amends aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old. An individual will be guilty of aggravated assault if he severely injures a child and has been previously convicted of assault or attempted assault upon a child in the preceding 10 years, instead of the current three years.
  • Aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old is increased from a class E felony to a class D felony. A third child abuse conviction would make aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old a class B felony.
  • In severe cases, Jay J’s Law will also allow law enforcement to charge individuals who recklessly commit serious repeat child abuse with first-degree assault, a class B felony.


A class D felony carries a maximum sentence of 7 years, while a class B felony has a maximum sentence of 25 years.

“Simply put, passing Jay J’s Law means stronger penalties for repeat abusers who violently attack children,” Senator Kennedy said.

Jay J’s Law now awaits approval in the Assembly before it is sent to the Governor to be signed into law.