Survivor Lawmakers Urge Gov to Support Extension for the Child Victims Act Lookback Window
Biaggi, Bichotte, Niou, Cruz: "listen to survivors"
NEW YORK (03/05/2020) (readMedia)-- In a press conference last week, Governor Cuomo said that he thinks it's too soon to consider extending the lookback window of the Child Victims Act saying: "theoretically, we knew what we were doing in the first place." A group of survivors from across the state responded to the Governor's comments last week, urging him to reconsider his position and support the bill.
Four lawmakers who are also survivors of childhood sexual assault and recently participated in a public awareness campaign to let people know about their new rights under the law, joined their call:
"We urge the Governor to listen to survivors of sexual abuse and support legislative efforts to extend the lookback window of the Child Victims Act. In the six months since the window first opened over 1,600 cases have been filed statewide: that does not mean our job is done, it means we have more work to do. We know firsthand that it can take survivors years to even open-up about our abuse, let alone declare it in a court of law. After 13 years of stonewalling survivors, the least we can do as the supposedly most progressive state in the nation is give them a little more time to find justice on their own terms," said Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, Assemblymember Catalina Cruz and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou.
After languishing for 13 long years in the New York State Legislature, lawmakers finally passed the Child Victims Act, extending 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. 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.