New York Takes Action to Protect Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse
The New York Legislature passed a new law that extends the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse. In a report by CNN, Marci Hamilton, CEO of Child USA and professor at the University of Pennsylvania stated that in terms of statutes of limitations for child sex abuse cases, “New York has just gone from being one of the worst states in the country to being one of the best.”
Passage of the New York Child Victims Act by New York follows what many states already do. This new law allows victims of child abuse to sue their attackers, decades after the abuse occurs. Trauma, fear and other factors often delay the ability of sexual abuse victims to come forward and tell their stories. New York State finally recognizes that victims need and deserve more time to pursue criminal charges and civil remedies. Our sexual abuse attorneys fight for the rights of those sexually abused by the clergy and others.
How Does The New York Child Victims Act Help Child Abuse Survivors?
The NYCVA gives child abuse victims more time to pursue their abuser and hold him or her accountable for their actions. Specifically, the NYCVA:
- Allows a child victim to pursue civil remedies until the age of 55 (the previous law capped the age at 23)
- Creates one-year period during which child sexual abuse victims of any age and any time limit may come forward to pursue claims.
- Allows a child victim of sexual abuse to pursue criminal charges and prosecution until the age of 28
In reality, the new law will give thousands of men and women the opportunity to seek justice that would have otherwise been unavailable under the old law. It means that New York finally recognizes the unique nature of child sex abuse cases and the deep, unrelenting emotional damage it can cause for victims well into adulthood.
Despite Opposition From Catholic Church, New York Legislature Comes Through For Victims of Sexual Abuse
According to CNN, the New York Catholic Conference spent decades opposing the passage of the law extending the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases. CNN reported that Governor Cuomo “blamed the church directly for preventing the bill’s passage.” That opposition was dropped only when the legislature agreed to allow victims to sue public institutions as well as religious ones. Initially, the extended statute of limitations was introduced to ensure that individuals who were sexually abused as children by members of the clergy, did not lose the right to pursue legal remedies against the Catholic Church.
Will There Be a Flood of Cases Filed by Sexual Abuse Survivors?
Time will determine how many more victims come forward to seek justice in court or see that their abusers receive punishment. Child USA’s Hamilton hopes that by passing this bill, more people will come forward and shed light on the epidemic nature and patterns of sexual abuse in our country. With more information and accountability, change may occur.