(Update Feb 13th, 2019)
The New York Governor has signed into law the Child Victims Act.
10 years after the law being passed by the New York Assembly, the New York Child Victims Act, which changes the statute of limitations to bring sexual abuse cases, may finally become law in the New Year.
Here is what you need to know about the proposed law:
WHAT IS IT?
The New York Child Victims Act is a proposed law that will change the statute of limitations for both criminal and civil child sexual abuse cases in New York.
For criminal cases, the Child Victims Act eliminates the statute of limitations on criminal prosecutions of persons who abused children.
For civil cases, the Child Victims Act allows victims to bring civil cases 50 years from the sexual assault. In addition, there will be a one year look back period (“window”) that allows victims to bring civil cases who under the current law cannot do so. In other words, during the “window” victims of childhood sexual abuse may bring lawsuits no matter when the abuse occurred.
Private and public entities are treated the same under the Child Victims Act whereas under current law public entities have a shorter limitations period because of the requirement to give notice to sue within 90 days of the assault.
The one-year look back window is critical to protect child victims of sexual abuse. Under the current law, victims must bring their claims against perpetrators before their 23rd birthday and against an institution by their 21st birthday. Most victims did not bring claims within the current statute of limitations period and, as a result, these survivors have no measure of justice available to them and many perpetrators are not identified.
The Child Victims Act will give victims the opportunity to hold both the perpetrators and institutions that enabled the predators accountable. The Act will also help to expose child sexual predators not previously identified who are likely still abusing children.
WHEN WILL IT BECOME LAW?
It is expected that the Child Victims Act will become law in 2019. The Act was proposed and passed by the New York Assembly for ten years. The New York Senate, which is controlled by the Republican Party, did not allow the legislation to come up for a vote and so it never became law. In 2018, the Democratic Party won control of the New York Senate and have stated that they will pass the Child Victims Act when the Senate convenes in 2019. Last year, Governor Cuomo included the Child Victims Act in his agenda so it is expected that he will sign the Child Victims Act into law when it is passed by the New York Legislature. The law will have a specific enactment date so it will be clear when the Window starts and ends.
If you have questions about the new law, or feel that the new law may help bring light on an old case or you may have been a victim yourself, contact the Herman Law and ensure that your voice is heard. Call (800) 686-9921.