Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Respond to Gov Casting Doubt on Bill to Extend Child Victims Act Window
NEW YORK (02/27/2020) (readMedia)-- In a press conference Monday, Governor Cuomo stated that he believed it was too soon to consider extending the lookback window saying: "theoretically, we knew what we were doing in the first place." 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.
"It is never too soon to allow more survivors to seek justice. The Governor and the state haven't spent a cent on a public awareness campaign to inform the now grown one in four girls and one in six boys who've been abused in New York State about their new rights under the new law, but already he's decided it's time for closure. Closure for who? Certainly not for the thousands of survivors who have yet to come forward. Since the window opened in August over 1,600 cases have been filed, with 62 in the last week alone. Whether a survivor is struggling to find legal representation, or needs more time to decide whether they can take on the emotional and psychological costs of challenging our abusers in court, one year is simply not enough," said Mary Ellen O'Loughlin (Saratoga Springs), Asher Lovy (Brooklyn), Brian Toale (Manhattan) and Melanie Blow (Buffalo).
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 13th, 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.