Safe Horizon Applauds Gov. Cuomo for Signing One Year Extension to Child Victims Act Lookback Window

Releases new PSA to let survivors know they have until August 13th, 2021 to file a civil claim

NEW YORK, NY (08/03/2020) (readMedia)-- On Monday Governor Cuomo signed the one year extension of the Child Victims Act Lookback Window, following passage in the Assembly (134 - 10) and State Senate (60 - 2) on May 27th. The bill gives survivors until midnight on August, 13th, 2021 to file a civil case against their abusers and any institutions that may have enabled the abuse, no matter how old they are or how long ago the abuse happened.

In response, Safe Horizon kicked off a new public information campaign with a PSA featuring bill sponsors, Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, as well as lawmaker-survivors: Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblymembers Rodneyse Bichotte, Catalina Cruz, and Yuh-Line Niou. View the video here.

"Safe Horizon, the nation's largest non-profit victim assistance organization, applauds Governor Cuomo for signing the one year extension of the Child Victims Act lookback window into law. As always, we are enormously grateful to Senate sponsor Brad Hoylman and Assembly sponsor Linda Rosenthal for their tireless work on this important bill. The COVID-19 pandemic created great uncertainty for survivors of childhood sexual abuse who may have considered filing civil litigation against their abusers and the negligent institutions. With the signing of this law, survivors across the state can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they have more time to pursue justice on their own terms. We urge lawmakers to now turn their attention to the Adult Survivors Act, a bill that would create a lookback window for survivors who were sexually assaulted as adults. We look forward to celebrating that important victory for survivors soon," said Michael Polenberg, VP of Government Affairs, Safe Horizon.

"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 organized by Safe Horizon 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," said Senator Brad Hoylman.

"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," said Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal.

"I applaud the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo for extending the one year window of the Child Victims Act, as well as all of the people who fought so hard to see the bill pass. Survivors deserve clarity about their rights and no victims should be left with residual fear and nowhere to turn. The Child Victims Act, and this look-back window especially, ensure that survivors in New York State don't need to be scared, they have time. The next step is ensuring that survivors are informed about their rights," said Honorable Heela Capell, Survivor.

"I and the survivors I serve am grateful to Governor Cuomo for signing this extension into law. One year was never enough, and today the governor is recognizing that reality. As the cases filed during the first year progress, more survivors will be encouraged to step forward and pursue their own cases. By extending the Child Victims Act for a second year, we are giving hundreds more survivors the opportunity to publicly identify their abusers, and hold them and the institutions responsible for enabling their abuse accountable," said Asher Lovy, Director of Community Organizing - ZA'AKAH, Survivor.

"Coming to terms with the damage done as a victim of childhood sexual abuse is not an easy thing to do after suffering in secret silence for most of one's life. This extension gives survivors one additional year to find the internal and external resources needed to take that step and access the path to justice that has been so long denied to so many," said Brian Toale, Manhattan SNAP Leader, Survivor.

"Thank you to Gov Cuomo, the state Senate, and the state Assembly for extending the Child Victims Act. As a survivor who has filed a claim, I know first hand the power of this law," said Bridie Farrell, Survivor.

Bill Background:

After languishing for 13 long years in the New York State Legislature, lawmakers finally passed the Child Victims Act, extending the statute of limitations for criminal cases to 28 and for civil cases to 55 for anyone aged 23, and under, the day the bill was signed on February 14th, 2019. Critically, the law included a lookback window allowing survivors, over the age of 23 on the day the bill was signed, one year to file a civil case against the individual or institution that may have abused them, no matter how long ago the abuse happened. A bill held by Assm. Rosenthal and Sen. Hoylman, the original CVA sponsors, (S.7082/A.9036) passed on May 27th, 2020 and extended the window for another. Multi-year lookback windows give survivors access to justice given that it can take decades to grapple with the shame and guilt associated with child sexual abuse. While New York's window is limited to one year several states already have 2 or 3 year windows: New Jersey and North Carolina, and California respectively. Survivors who decide to proceed with a civil suit must also grapple with the emotional and psychological costs of holding their abusers accountable in court, which can be especially difficult if that abuser is a family member. A bill (S.6810 Holyman / A.8726 L. Rosenthal) has been introduced in the Legislature that would change that. The Adult Survivor's Act (ASA) would allow survivors one year to bring a civil suit against their abuser or the institution that may have failed to protect them, even if they're past the statute of limitations.