Safe Horizon Responds to Gov. Cuomo's Comments on Signing Child Victims Act Lookback Window Extension
NEW YORK (04/30/2020) (readMedia)-- In Governor Cuomo's daily press conference Thursday, a reporter asked whether the Governor would sign a bill extending the Child Victims Act one year lookback window. The Governor responded by saying, "I would need to see the bill and then make a decision." A bill (S.7082/A.9036) to do just that was introduced in October of 2019 by Senator Brad Hoylman and Linda Rosenthal.
Other states like New Jersey and North Carolina, and California are in the midst of 2 and 3 year lookback windows respectively.
"Now more than ever we need Governor Cuomo to lead on issues like extending the Child Victims Act lookback window. Since the one year window opened in August, over 1,800 cases have been filed, but the COVID crisis has effectively shut down the civil justice system, causing confusion and panic. It is imperative that survivors have more time to find justice and a clear understanding of how this law affects them. Survivors spent 13 years waiting for legislative leaders to do the right thing, but we know passing the CVA was only the beginning. Survivors need lawmakers to make good on their promise of a pathway to justice, and that starts by extending the lookback window another year," said Michael Polenberg, VP Government Affairs, 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.