main navigation
my pace

Cindy Kanusher | PACE UNIVERSITY

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

Westchester County Bar Association featured Haub Law Dean Horace Anderson and Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center in "Law School Clinics Are Part of New York’s Recovery"

10/07/2020

Westchester County Bar Association featured Haub Law Dean Horace Anderson and Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center in "Law School Clinics Are Part of New York’s Recovery"

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way law school clinics provide legal services to clients in low-income communities. Reliable ways of doing community outreach, seeing clients, and filing motions have all been disrupted in the era of social distancing and remote work.

Meanwhile, the need for civil legal services is daunting. Pre-pandemic, more than half of civil legal needs remained unmet for low-income people...

Read the full Westchester County Bar Association article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

Lohud featured Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center, in "While coronavirus has children home and families strained, abuse and neglect could rise"

04/06/2020

Lohud featured Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center, in "While coronavirus has children home and families strained, abuse and neglect could rise"

“Having to be there day in and day out, with absolutely no ability to get out and get away, has got to be terrifying and emotionally damaging,” said Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center. “It's really scary, because I'm not sure what exactly can be done right now, except to make sure that resources are still available.”

Read the full lohud article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

LoHud featured Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center in "'Familicide' committed overwhelmingly by men: It's all about power and control"

12/10/2019

LoHud featured Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center in "'Familicide' committed overwhelmingly by men: It's all about power and control"

“It usually happens at a time when an abuser is losing control over the other person. It’s a time when they were going through a divorce, or the woman said she was leaving, that’s when there’s a high risk that things are going to turn lethal,” said Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center. “There's this sort of idea that, you know, this relationship is not going to exist anymore and I'm going to take everybody down with me.”

Read the LoHud full article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

"The Journal News" featured Pace University Women's Justice Center Executive Director Cindy Kanusher in "Freeman case: Why 'creepy' behavior not always criminal, and how New York could change law"

07/23/2019

"The Journal News" featured Pace University Women's Justice Center Executive Director Cindy Kanusher in "Freeman case: Why 'creepy' behavior not always criminal, and how New York could change law"

Are laws responsive?

Even in the post-#MeToo era, the law can be limiting, said Cindy Kanusher, executive director of Pace Women’s Justice Center, a nonprofit that provides free legal services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment.

“There needs to be recognition that these kinds of behaviors are falling outside the bounds of the criminal justice system, leaving victims without recourse,” Kanusher said in her office, located on the grounds of Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law in White Plains. “Change has to happen so that our criminal law is responsive to the types of criminal behavior that we’re talking about.”

Kanusher said that changes to the law have to be done carefully and constitutionally. But past penal code changes have created leaps toward justice.

For example, in 2011, the state added felony and misdemeanor charges specifically to address strangulation, an act that domestic abusers use to terrorize a victim. But choking someone often doesn't leave marks; since it wasn't a criminal offense on its own, abusers often got away with it.

When a criminal count of "obstruction of breathing or blood circulation" was added, more than 2,000 were charged within the first 15 weeks, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services reported.

“Sometimes the laws are not written or don’t exist to respond to these types of behaviors,” Kanusher said.

Read the full article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

"The Examiner" featured Cindy Kanusher, Executive Director of Pace Women's Justice Center, in "Women’s Center Sees Uptick in Legal Cases Encouraged by MeToo Movement"

07/26/2018

"The Examiner" featured Cindy Kanusher, Executive Director of Pace Women's Justice Center, in "Women’s Center Sees Uptick in Legal Cases Encouraged by MeToo Movement"

As the MeToo movement swept across the United States and around the globe, gender-based violence became a focus for women and men, with some victims suffering from situations going back decades.

The uptick in the number of people coming forward to talk about their particular situations and to take legal action has been marked by news stories as well as increasing new cases in the courts.

During this time, the Pace Women’s Justice Center has been at the forefront of activity in Westchester County, having recently moved to the former Student Life Center on the Pace Law School Campus in White Plains. Featuring a new walk-in clinic, it is the first of its kind in Westchester and Putnam counties, providing free legal services without an appointment in a warm and welcoming space, to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse.

The clinic is considered a safe alternative to PWJC’s satellite offices in the White Plains and Yonkers courthouses for clients who are afraid to go to the court personally to inquire about the legal merits of their case.

Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the center, told The White Plains Examiner in a recent interview that 95% of the clients served are women and that they do offer help to men as well.

Kanusher said the MeToo movement has definitely affected the work the center does and the number of people coming in, which has been on the increase for a while. The center serves over 3,000 clients a year.

It opened 30 years ago dealing primarily with domestic abuse and recently has done outreach to college-aged women who are victims of sexual assault.

“The MeToo movement is not about domestic violence, but violence to women, and sexual harassment in all walks of life,” Kanusher explained. “A lot has changed since the 1980s.”

In the 1980s the Violence Against Women Act was passed and federal money was made available that flowed to the states.

“Family justice issues were not taken seriously until the Act was passed,” Kanusher said. “With money flowing from the federal government, family justice centers were funded. People became educated about domestic violence and police were trained differently and began a different type of policing.”

But even with better education and better response, gender violence is still a big problem. There is not that much of a change, Kanusher advised. “One in four women will experience some form of sexual abuse across all backgrounds.”

At the root of the problem is control and one person feeling they have the right to control someone else.

“To get the violence to stop, the sexual harassment, physical and emotional violence to stop, legal things have to happen, Kanusher said. That’s where the Women’s Justice Center comes in.

The center provides legal services free of charge on those cases they have reviewed and determined eligible. They work with other agencies such as Hope’s Door and My Sisters Place by introduction and referral to help women through the counseling and safety aspects they need once legal action has been taken. If, for example, an order of protection is granted, on the same day the center will work with other agencies by referral to ensure the client’s safety once court papers have been served.

The clients come from a broad range of economic and cultural backgrounds. “Women often do not have access to money in their marriages,” Kanusher said. And wealth, or lack of it, has nothing to do with it. “It is about power. About getting your power back.

When problems get severe, it is not easy to say ‘I am leaving and taking the kids.’ Some women do not have access to funds to help themselves. It gets very complicated.”

Over the years, Kanusher explained the center has tried to do a lot of educating, but she is not sure how successful education alone has been.

Kanusher recalls a recent inquiry where one woman went to the courthouse to seek help and was referred to the walk-in clinic. She felt she had no options. Her husband had put cameras in the home, a tap on her cell phone and a GPS monitoring device in her car.

“Often people feel they have no options and are not sure if stalking behavior in a marriage is illegal. Well, stalking is stalking, Kanusher stated. “Spouses have rights as individuals.”

One area where Kanusher has seen an increase is with immigrants who are afraid to ask for help because if they do, they fear they will be asked about their immigration status and that of their family.

Westchester County passed the Immigrant Protection Act, but that only applies to County employees and agencies. In the federal courthouse ICE is free to make arrests. “We have many calls coming in on the legal help line about this, especially referring to sexual harassment. You can legally go to court no matter who you are, but we cannot control the federal agency.”

Clients coming to the clinic for the first time will meet with a paralegal or an attorney for a 45-min to one hour long conversation – a free service. They will get advice. If it is determined the center will take on their case, all further help and work is also free. If the clinic does not take the case, then they will refer it out.

Kanusher feels strongly that work needs to be done at the local level for issues that are nationwide. She encourages relationships between the center and local businesses, especially those owned by women. “It is important for people to stand up and make a difference,” she said.

If you have a legal question regarding domestic violence, sexual assault or elder abuse you can call the Help Line at 914-287-0739. This is not an emergency service, you will be asked to leave a message and someone will get back to you.

If you prefer a face-to-face meeting then walk in to the clinic on the Pace Law School Campus off of N. Broadway in White Plains.

Read the article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed

News Item

"Hamlet Hub" featured Pace University Women's Justice Center in "Pace Women's Justice Center Opens New Walk-in Clinic"

07/02/2018

"Hamlet Hub" featured Pace University Women's Justice Center in "Pace Women's Justice Center Opens New Walk-in Clinic"

The Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University is pleased to announce the opening of a new office for the Pace Women’s Justice Center (PWJC).  The 4,000 square-foot office space, which was the former Student Life Center on the Pace Law School Campus, will include a new walk-in legal clinic and will allow the center to serve as many as 500 more clients a year. 

PWJC is the leading civil legal services and training provider addressing domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse in Westchester and Putnam counties, providing free legal help to thousands each year who would otherwise not be able to afford representation. The new $1.5 million office space was funded by Pace University and private donors including a $100,000 grant from Impact 100 Westchester.

The center opening was attended by Pace University President Marvin Krislov, Pace Law Dean Horace Anderson, PWJC Executive Director Cindy Kanusher and elected officials from across Westchester.

“Pace University has always been dedicated to helping people and changing lives,” said Marvin Krislov, president of Pace. “The Pace Women’s Justice Center at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law does the important work of serving as a much-needed resource for some of the most vulnerable in our community. With this new center, I’m very pleased that we’ll be able to help even more families.”

“We are proud that the Women’s Justice Center has been a part of the Pace Law community for the past 25 years,” said Interim Dean Horace Anderson. “The PWJC provides critical services to thousands of clients a year. It also provides an opportunity for our students to work with supervising attorneys as they advocate and seek justice for women and families in need. We look forward to opening their new space today.”

PWJC currently serves over 3,000 clients per year. It is moving from a small space adjacent to the Pace Law campus that was not sufficient to meet the growing numbers of survivors who are in need of their services. PWJC’s attorneys assist women in and out of the courtroom, helping them to obtain orders of protection, custody of their children, child support and divorces. Victims of interpersonal violence have many needs arising from the abuse, and PWJC believes that clients do better in the long term if they are treated holistically.  Thus, PWJC connects women and the elderly with a broad range of social services such as shelter, medical care, counseling and immigration assistance, in order to help them find a pathway to safety.  PWJC also trains social service providers and police officers across the region in how to handle cases of abuse. 

Cindy Kanusher, Executive Director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center, said the clinic would be the first of its kind in Westchester and Putnam providing free legal services without an appointment in a warm and welcoming space, to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse.  She said the clinic would be a safe alternative to PWJC’s satellite offices in the White Plains and Yonkers courthouses for clients who are afraid to go to court.  Many victims fear facing their abuser in the courtroom, and immigrant victims are often afraid of the judicial system and deportation.  PWJC serves clients without regard to immigration status.

“Domestic Violence, sexual assault and elder abuse are pervasive problems that affect communities all over the country, including ours,’’ said Kanusher. “The explosion of the #MeToo Campaign demonstrates the need for the Pace Women’s Justice Center’s walk-in clinic; more victims of abuse are speaking out and needing help and the clinic will remove obstacles that many victims face when coming forward. We know that the opening of this clinic will save lives. We will give people the critical help that they need to feel safe, and we will be at their side every step of the way throughout the legal process.”

She added, “We are so thankful to everyone who generously contributed to the development of the new walk-in clinic, especially our partners Pace Law and Impact 100 Westchester.’’

“The Pace Women’s Justice Center’s walk-in clinic will provide much-need guidance and assistance to hundreds more survivors every year,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey. “The families who will be served by this clinic deserve justice and to live their lives in safety, and PWJC will help make that a reality, as it has for so many others in our community. I am grateful for the work that PWJC does, and look forward to continuing to fight alongside them on behalf of survivors of abuse.”

"Impact100 Westchester is thrilled to have awarded the Pace Women's Justice Center with a $100,000 transformational Project Grant to support their vision for a new walk-in clinic, which will increase access to their critical legal services for victims of interpersonal abuse in Westchester County, said Susan Bloom, Co-President.  “We are especially proud that PWJC was able to leverage our grant dollars to exponentially increase their impact.  Congratulations!"

Read the article.

News & Events

Sort/Filter

Filter Newsfeed