Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S7082/A9036) extending the look back window for victims to file claims under the Child Victims Act, regardless of when or how long ago the alleged abuse occurred. Since going into effect last year, the Child Victims Act has provided an avenue for justice for thousands of survivors. Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, on May 8, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order until January 14, 2021. The legislation signed today extends the special filing period by a full year and claims can now be filed under the Child Victims Act until August 14, 2021.
“The Child Victims Act brought a long-needed pathway to justice for people who were abused, and helps right wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished for far too long and we cannot let this pandemic limit the ability for survivors to have their day in court,” Governor Cuomo said. “As New York continues to reopen and recover from a public health crisis, extending the look back window is the right thing to do and will help ensure that abusers and those who enabled them are held accountable.”
Senator Brad Hoylman said, “The Child Victims Act has allowed more than 3,000 brave survivors to come forward to seek justice. Yet it’s clear many New Yorkers who survived child sexual abuse haven’t come forward — especially during the COVID-19 crisis which has upended our courts and economy. I’m extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing our legislation extending the Child Victims Act for an additional year and the leadership of Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for making the rights of survivors a priority, along with the Assembly sponsor, Linda B. Rosenthal. Most of all, credit goes to the fearless survivors of child sexual abuse, who courageously shared their personal stories in order that more New Yorkers would have the chance to hold their abusers and the institutions that harbored them accountable.”
Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal said, “Survivors of childhood sex abuse can breathe a sigh of relief now that the lookback window of the Child Victims Act has been extended for one more year. After fighting for the law’s passage for 13 long years, many feared the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the courts meant that the clock had run out on their opportunity to seek justice. I thank the Governor for signing this bill into law, thus ensuring that all those seeking redress for the heinous abuse perpetrated against them will have until August 14, 2021 to do so.”
Last year, Governor Cuomo to ensure survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a path to justice, including the ability to file a case which had already been time-barred or expired for a one-year period. That window to file an expired or time-barred case was set to close August 14, 2020, but had been extended until January by Executive Order on May 8.
The Child Victims Act:
- Increases the amount of time during which perpetrators of these crimes may be held criminally accountable;
- Allows victims of these crimes to commence a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach 55 years of age;
- Provides survivors seeking to file actions against public and private institutions for previously time-barred claims a new opportunity for their day in court by opening a one-year window, now extended to two years, for them to commence their civil action;
- Eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor;
- Requires judicial training with respect to crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors;
- Authorizes the Office of Court Administration to promulgate rules and regulations for the timely adjudication of revived actions.