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Child Victims Act—A Central Part of Governor’s 2019 Justice Agenda

February 20, 2019
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On February 15, 2019, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo fulfilled his promise to sign the Child Victims Act, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda, within the first 100 days of the new legislative session. The legislation ensures those who abuse children are held accountable criminally and civilly and that survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a path to justice. Our New York sexual assault attorneys know how unfair New York’s statute of limitations can be to victims of sexual abuse. The old laws allowed sexual predators to escape civil consequences of their actions and provided a shield to those in organizations such as schools, churches, and hospitals, that turned a blind eye.

This bill will provide necessary relief to child victims of sexual abuse by amending New York’s antiquated laws to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, regardless of when the crime occurred. Under current law, child sexual abuse offenses cannot be prosecuted after five years from their occurrence and civil lawsuits for this conduct must be brought within three years from the victim’s 18th birthday.

However, this legislation:

  • 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 victims whose claims have been time-barred a new opportunity for their day in court by opening a one-year window for them to commence their 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.

With the Child Victims Act now signed into law by Governor Cuomo, survivors of child sexual abuse in New York State finally have the opportunity to seek justice against their abusers and the institutions who may have harbored them. Our New York attorneys who prosecute civil sexual assualt and rape cases, applaud the change in the law, as a positive step forward. With the passage of the Child Victims Act into law, New York State sends the unequivocal and powerful message that we stand with survivors against predators, no matter how powerful. Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal stated: “Today, we learn that not all heroes wear capes: the brave women and men who fought for years to see this bill become law have helped to make this state safer for everyone.”

The New York trial Attorney’s in this firm believe that this bill has opened a pathway to justice, and perhaps some modicum of healing, for survivors of childhood sexual assault. Last but not the least, the survivors of child sexual abuse deserve credit for baring their souls and sharing their personal stories. In the process, the survivors won the hearts and minds of the members of the State Legislature and thanks to them, New York is a safer place for our children.

 
The Law Offices of Michael H. Joseph