The New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act, which greatly extends the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to sue both criminally and civilly, ending one of the most restrictive time limits in the nation.

The new law allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to take action against their abusers until the age of 55 for civil cases and 28 for criminal cases. The Child Victim Act significantly increases the former limit which required both criminal and civil charges to be brought by the age of 23. The bill also created a one-year window where any case of child sexual abuse that was beyond the previous statute of limitations can be prosecuted.

The legislation previously received opposition from Republican legislators who blocked the bill in past years from the Senate floor. However, in November, Democrats won control of the Senate and the bill received overwhelming support, from both Democrats and Republicans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Roman Catholic, said, “I believe it was the conservatives in the Senate who were threatened by the Catholic Church,” resulting in more than a decade of dispute over the bill. New York’s Catholic Conference had opposed the bill but later supported it once the bill was amended that both private and public institutions could be prosecuted.

Several other states in the nation allow child sexual abuse victims to prosecute their cases decades after their abuse. Studies show that 1 in 3 victims never disclose their childhood sexual abuse with the average age to disclose being 52 years old.

 

Media Resources: Child USA; CNN 1/28/19; New York Times 1/28/19

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