Safe Horizon Responds to Gov. Cuomo Extending Child Victims Act One Year Window
NEW YORK (05/08/2020) (readMedia)-- In Governor Cuomo's daily press briefing today, he announced that he would be extending the one year window of the Child Victims Act to January 14th, 2021. The window opened on August 14th, 2019 and allows survivors of any age 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 has been introduced in the legislature held by Assm. L. Rosenthal and Sen. Hoylman, the original CVA sponsors, (S.7082/A.9036) that would extend the window for another year. Other states like New Jersey and North Carolina, and California are in the midst of 2 and 3 year lookback windows respectively.
"When the Child Victims Act was enacted last year we knew that it was just the beginning, and that there would of course be more work to do to give survivors the power to find justice on their own terms. Then the COVID crisis struck and state courts were necessarily slowed, which created confusion and doubt among survivors about what rights were available to them. The Governor's executive order today will extend the look-back window to mid-January, and Safe Horizon thanks him for taking this important step and for acknowledging that the pandemic requires extending the look back window so that survivors of childhood sexual abuse can more readily pursue justice. The State legislature must now return to remote session and extend the lookback window for another full year," said Michael Polenberg, VP of Government Affairs at Safe Horizon.
The Child Victims Act extended 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) would extend 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.