January 28, 2019

Assembly to Pass the Child Victims Act

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal announced the Assembly's intent to pass the Child Victims Act today. The legislation (A.2683, Rosenthal) would help survivors of childhood sexual abuse seek justice by allowing them more time to pursue legal recourse as adults.

"For too long survivors of childhood sexual abuse have had to live with their trauma while their perpetrators escaped justice because of New York's inadequate laws," said Speaker Heastie. "This legislation would ensure that they are finally given their day in court and that their abusers are exposed and held accountable. The Assembly Majority has passed the Child Victims Act for many years, and we are glad that working with our new partners in the Senate it will finally become law."

"The Child Victims Act, a bill long championed by the Assembly, will finally be passed by both houses of the legislature, and the gates of justice will be opened to survivors of child sexual abuse. Survivors, who have endured so much pain in their lives and have been silenced for so long, for the first time will be empowered to present their cases – publically, in a court of law – against their abusers and the institutions that harbored them," said Assemblymember Rosenthal. "While we cannot erase the past, I am so proud that here in New York State, we are taking the side of victims and survivors, protecting children and seeing that the soul crushing abusers are held to account."

The Child Victims Act would give childhood sexual abuse survivors an additional five years to seek criminal charges against perpetrators by changing when the statute of limitations clock begins to run. Under the bill, the five year period within which charges could be brought would not start until the victim reaches age 23, rather than 18.

For civil cases involving sex offenses against a child, the statute of limitations would be tolled and a lawsuit by a victim would be permitted up until the victim turns 55 years of age. The legislation includes a one year look-back window for survivors who are not able to seek recourse under current law. This one-year look-back window would take effect six months after the bill is signed into law.

The measure would treat public and private entities equally by removing the current notice of claim provisions for public entities, and further clarify that public and private entities are subject to the look-back window.

In recognition of the fact that many victims have already been forced to wait years to access the justice system, the bill would give revived cases a trial preference so they move forward more quickly in court. Judges would also be required to undergo additional training concerning crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors.