NEW YORK (07/15/2019) (readMedia)-- On Monday, a group of advocates, lawmakers and survivors of childhood sexual abuse stood together to call attention to the Child Victims Act in advance of Jeffrey Esptein's bail hearing. On January 28th the New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act into law, which extends the statute of limitations in which a survivor can file a criminal case to 28 years old, and a civil case to 55 years old. Crucially, it also creates a one year window -- starting August 14th -- for any survivor over the age of 23 to bring a civil suit no matter how long ago the abuse happened. The law applies to both individuals and institutions, and would include the survivors who allege that Epstein abused them in New York. On such survivor Jennifer Araoz, has confirmed in news reports that she plans to sue Epstein once the window opens in thirty days.
Safe Horizon is today launching a comprehensive website to educate the public and survivors about their rights under the new law. The effort will include wide-ranging outreach, a public information campaign, and earned and paid media. Those looking for support or just to talk with someone can call 1-800-621-HOPE.
"We fought to pass the Child Victim's Act with the look-back window so that every survivor -- including those Mr. Epstein allegedly abused -- could have a pathway to justice under the law, if that's what's right for them. This is a deeply personal decision, but finally survivors have a choice. Whatever you decide to do, Safe Horizon supports you, and we are here to help," said Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon.
Safe Horizon, the largest victims service provider in the country, fought for years to include a look back "window" in the Child Victims Act to ensure the greatest number of survivors could benefit from the new law. The look back window opens on August 14th. Safe Horizon also offers a wide array of services including hotlines, shelter, legal services and counseling.
"Serial abusers like Jeffrey Epstein who once thought they could beat the clock, should think again," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, sponsor of New York's Child Victims Act (CVA) in the New York State Assembly. "Justice may have been denied to Epstein's victims - and countless others - the first time around, but the one-year window that the CVA opens in August 2019 will help ensure that every survivor of childhood sexual assault has their day in court and their shot at justice. Abusers like Epstein beware."
Senator Brad Hoylman said: "Serial predators like Jeffrey Epstein are precisely the reason New York passed the Child Victims Act. Starting next month, survivors of past child sexual abuse will finally have an opportunity to sue their abusers and those who aided and abetted them. The Child Victims Act will shine a spotlight on predators like Epstein who have operated in the shadows for far too long. I'm grateful for the partnership of Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and organizations like Safe Horizon that helped make the Child Victims Act a reality."
"The passage of the Child Victims Act, including the one year window opening on August 14th, allows victims of child sexual abuse to see that their second-class citizenship is finally over, said Brian Toale Survivor and Mahattan SNAP Leader. "Now, if they choose to, they can access a justice system that could help them get their lives back on track, whatever that means for them, individually. Some need help financially after difficult troubled lives, some want to see justice done and their abuser held accountable, and some will just find closure by being seen, heard and believed, so that they can move forward with their lives. Every abuse victim who becomes an abuse survivor through this process will inspire still more to feel safe enough to come forward. This is how we identify the predators who are still out there and protect our children and grandchildren from the fate we endured."
"The Epstein matter highlights why the Child Victims Act was so desperately needed," said Rory Forrestal, Ret. Suffolk County Sex Crimes Detective. "Shamefully people at the very highest levels of Law Enforcement failed the very victims they were sworn to protect. The Child Victims Act brings justice and closure to survivors silenced by powerful people and the organizations that hide them. The pile of seized victim pictures once again highlights the need to completely eliminate the New York State Criminal Statute of Limitations in Child Exploitation cases."
"The Child Victims Act was a crucial first step in righting the historic wrongs perpetrated against victims of child sexual abuse, said Asher Lovy, Survivor. "By extending the criminal and civil statutes of limitations, future survivors will be afforded the time they need to safely come forward against their abusers and any institutions that enabled them, and by opening a one year Lookback Window we not only give survivors who were previously barred from justice a chance to seek justice, we also allow them to expose abusers like Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, and many others who would otherwise still be free to continue abusing with impunity."
"As a Former member of the New York State Democrat Committee and Former Music Executive it meant so much to me to have been a part of fighting for the Child Victims Act and raise the age limit both Criminal and civil because people don't really speak about it until years later, I was 23 years old when I first told my mother what happen to me. I was molested by a man at the age of 15 years old and it damaged me in ways no one will truly understand, I do not trust being around any man without thinking they are going to try something on me. The look back window will help some many victims in so many different ways that it was much needed and i hope victims use it, said Ron Savage Survivor."
"We believe that if someone deliberately hurt you, someone must pay," said Carrie Goldberg Esq. "We need to remove the stigma attached to pursuing financial justice and place it back on the shameful behavior of predators, like Epstein, and those who enable them. Here in New York, sadly many victims have learned that law enforcers and prosecutors stick up for the powerful. Through the Child Victims Act, survivors of child sexual abuse can finally take the law into their own hands and hold their offender accountable. We accept the right to sue when somebody slips and breaks their leg or gets injured from a faulty vacuum cleaner. But historically when victims of sex predators tried to sue they get shamed as opportunists, liars, crazies, golddiggers. They're told they can't prove their injuries or it's a "he-said/she-said" story. The Child Victims Act is a recognition by the State of New York that victims of child sexual abuse suffered real, tangible injuries and they deserve compensation for it. It's time to make life difficult for predators, perverts, and abusers – and the institutions that enable them."
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CHILD VICTIMS ACT
What does the Child Victims Act do?
The Child Victims Act gives survivors of child sexual abuse more time to seek justice in our courts. Moving forward under the law survivors who were under the age of 23 on February 14, 2019 will now have until:
Their 55th birthday to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser.
Their 25th birthday to file criminal misdemeanor charges against their abusers and their 28th birthday to file criminal felony charges.
The CVA also creates a one year "window," beginning in mid-August 2019 through August 2020, when ANY adult survivor of child sexual abuse can file a civil lawsuit against their abuser and/or a negligent institution, no matter how long ago the abuse took place.
What does the one-year window do?
The one-year window allows any survivor who had aged out of the previous statute of limitations to file civil charges.
This includes survivors who have never filed a case or claim and those whose cases were dismissed because of the previous statute of limitations. Survivors of ANY age can file a civil case during the window.
When can survivors file a suit under the one-year window?
Suits can be filed between August 2019 and August 2020. These claims do not need to be finished before August 2020, just filed.