VIDEO: Safe Horizon and Survivors Mark One Year Anniversary of Child Victims Act
1,420 cases filed so far, six months left of one year window. -- Safe Horizon calls on Legislature to extend the window another year.
NEW YORK (01/27/2020) (readMedia)-- Link to video HERE.
The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York stood with survivors of childhood sexual abuse and Safe Horizon -- the largest victims services provider in the country -- to mark the one year anniversary of the Child Victims Act (CVA). The CVA extends the statute of limitations to 28 for felonies and 55 for civil cases, and applies to anyone who was under 23 years of age the day the bill was signed (February 13th 2019). For everyone else, the Child Victims Act also created a one year window to allow survivors of any age to file a civil claim against their abuser or liable institutions, like the late Jeffrey Epstein, no matter how long ago the abuse happened. The window opened on August 14th, 2019 and will close on August 14th, 2020.
Since the one year window opened, over 1,400 cases have been filed across the state. There is currently a bill in the state legislature held by Assm. Rosenthal and Sen. Hoylman, the original CVA sponsors, (S.7082/A.9036) to extend the window for another year to allow more survivors to find justice in the courts. Many states already have windows longer than one year, including California, North Carolina, and New Jersey, allowing survivors more time to come forward. Extended lookback windows are incredibly important to survivors as it can take years to come forward due to the shame and guilt associated with child sexual abuse. These laws give survivors the time necessary to recover and decide how to engage with the criminal justice system.
"Every survivor should be able to take the time they need to make the choice that is right for them. That's why we urge Albany to extend the lookback window under the Child Victims Act without delay," said Ariel Zwang CEO of Safe Horizon.
To educate survivors about how the CVA applies to them, Safe Horizon launched a wide ranging public awareness campaign with a video PSA, which has been seen nearly 300,000 times. The video is also in Spanish, Mandarin and Haitian Creole and features survivors, including four New York State lawmakers. After premiering in Times Square, the video PSA was seen in movie theaters across New York City and featured in a Facebook Ad Campaign. In addition, Safe Horizon also launched a webpage specifically to provide detailed and unbiased information about the Child Victims Act. The page has had over 20,000 unique pageviews since its launch in July.
"The most important thing that we can do is leave an imprint on society. We have been able to open conversations and heal survivors. Most importantly we have set a strong message that predators have consequences," said Ana Wagner, Survivor.
"The Child Victims Act has made it possible for survivors of child sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community who never imagined that the possibility of justice would ever exist to hold their abusers and the institutions that enabled them accountable. I've spoken to many of these survivors, and just being able to file a complaint in court has been life-changing for them. It's often difficult to even discuss the issue of child sexual abuse in our community, but with these cases, made possible by the Child Victims Act, the conversation will be thrust into the public discourse in our community in a way that will be impossible to ignore," said Asher Lovy, Survivor.
"It's not just "our day in court" that the CVA has given us. Perpetrators of child sexual abuse and the powerful institutions that harbored and enabled them have gotten the message that they can no longer take advantage of the vulnerable without consequence. Now they can and will be held accountable for the harm they have inflicted on the innocent for God knows how long. And even more important than that, victims of child sexual abuse, so long kept silenced by these same institutions and their powerful colluders, can witness fellow survivors, empowered to speak their truth out loud, expose their abusers at last. We survivors can now let go of the shame that so profoundly affected our lives, whether we realized it or not. It was never ours to begin with!" said Brian Toale, Survivor.