Safe Horizon Applauds Leg. for Expanding Survivors Rights by Extending the Child Victims Act Lookback Window
NEW YORK (05/27/2020) (readMedia)-- On Wednesday the New York State Legislature passed a one year extension to the Child Victims Act look-back window. Survivors will now have 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.
"Safe Horizon is enormously grateful to Senate sponsor Brad Hoylman, Assembly sponsor Linda Rosenthal, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and their colleagues in the New York State Legislature for passing a one year extension to the Child Victims Act lookback window. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the ability of survivors of childhood sexual abuse to meet with their attorneys and gather evidence, and it's vitally important that they have enough time to pursue their rights. In other cases, survivors may have had difficulty finding legal representation because the defendant lacks institutional resources. We urge Governor Cuomo, who smartly extended the civil window until January 2021 via Executive Order, to sign it into law without delay. This will ensure that New York remains a leader in protecting children and creating increased paths to justice for survivors," said Michael Polenberg, VP of Government Affairs Safe Horizon.
The Child Victims Act extended the statute of limitations for criminal cases to age 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. The bill introduced by Assm. L. Rosenthal and Sen. Hoylman, the original CVA sponsors, (S.7082/A.9036) extends the window for another year allowing more survivors the chance to seek justice in the courts. 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. 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. Survivors deserve appropriate time to access their rights under the law. NY will follow other states like CA and HI, who have already extended windows for childhood sexual assault survivors.