Yesterday, A state Supreme Court justice ruled the New York’s Child Victims Act constitutional. The CVA, which has given survivors of sexual abuse that were previously not able to file civil suit due to statute of limitations restrictions, an opportunity to file decades-old complaints against their alleged offenders. The CVA is a window to file a civil case.
The Rockville Centre Catholic Diocese on Long Island, has been campaigning to dismiss the cases that have been filed against them due to the Child Victims Act that opened the window to file. The diocese has more than 40 claims under the CVA law, has been trying to argue that the act violated due process rights afforded in the state Constitution, however, Justice Steven M. Jaeger of Nassau County disagreed.
“The court finds the Child Victims Act is a reasonable response to remedy the injustice of past child sexual abuse,” Jaeger wrote.
In August 2019, the CVA opened a one-year “look-back” period which allowed victims of childhood sexual abuse to ignore the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits against their perpetrators. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently extended the window to January as civil courts have come to a halt due to COVID-19.
Though the legal challenge was filed in Nassau County, this extension will effect other states as well.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, who sponsored the legislation, said the decision is “a reminder of the many factors that prevent survivors from coming forward.”
“Legal challenges and constitutional debates continue to prevent some survivors from being heard,” he said in a statement. “That’s why it’s more important than ever to extend the Child Victims Act’s look-back window for a full year, allowing as many survivors as possible to seek justice.”
Gary Greenberg , a sexual abuse survivor and longtime advocate of the CVA, called again on all bishops across the state to release records of priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children that have been kept hidden under lock and key all these years. “The church is harming itself and bringing new pain to victims with these lawsuits,” he said.
“We disagree with the court’s ruling on the due process challenge to the Child Victims Act, and we are analyzing our options with respect to appeal of this and other issues,” Rockville Diocese spokesman Sean P. Dolan said in a statement.