Safe Horizon Responds to Weinstein Claims that Child Victims Act is Unconstitutional
NEW YORK, NY (08/18/2020) (readMedia)-- Today news broke that Harvey Weinstein is trying to defend himself against another alleged incident of sexual abuse, by arguing that the Child Victims Act is unconstitutional. In response Michael Polenberg, VP for Government Affairs of Safe Horizon released the following statement:
"Harvey Weinstein -- a convicted rapist -- trying to delegitimize the Child Victims Act only reinforces why the New York State Legislature passed the law in the first place: survivors of childhood sex abuse need to be able to hold their abusers accountable in court. Thousands of survivors have been able to do so thanks to the CVA, which is why the Legislature just extended the look back window another year. Instead of limiting survivors' rights, like the Weinsteins of the world want, the Legislature should be expanding them. It's time to pass the Adult Survivors Act now, so that all survivors, regardless of when they were abused, can seek justice."
Passed in 2019, the Child Victims Act allows timebarred child sex abuse survivors a one year lookback window to file a civil claim. In a single year, there have already been over 2,000 cases filed in New York State. Governor Andrew Cuomo just signed legislation extending the window another year until August 14th, 2021. Safe Horizon, the largest victims services provider in the country, recently released a public service announcement to inform survivors of the extension. The Adult Survivors Act is based on the same idea of a lookback window, but for people who were over 18 at the time of their abuse.
After languishing for 13 long years in the New York State Legislature, lawmakers finally passed the Child Victims Act. The law allows survivors who were under 18 when their abuse occurred the ability to pursue justice in the courts. The law extends the statute of limitations from 23 years to 25 for misdemeanors, 28 for felonies and 55 for civil cases. Critically the law opened a one year window for survivors of any age to file a civil claim against their abuser or liable institutions no matter when the abuse occurred. On May 27th a one year extension of that window was passed by the State Legislature, though it has not yet been signed by the Governor. Survivors over the age of 18 do not have the same opportunity unless they are still within the statute of limitations. 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. Survivors deserve appropriate time to access their rights under the law. 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.