Victims of child sex abuse now have an extra year to file lawsuits against their abusers, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Monday extending the current deadline slated for mid-August.
The New York Child Victims Act passed in early 2019 gave individuals a one-year lookback window to bring claims against perpetrators in cases that had already exceeded the statute of limitations.
The original filing deadline would have expired within the next few weeks — Aug. 14 of this year — but the new law expands the date one full year to Aug. 14, 2021.
The move came after advocates and sex abuse survivors begged lawmakers to introduce a measure granting additional time, especially after so many cases were filed after the courts stopped taking new cases in March.
“The Child Victims Act brought a long-needed pathway to justice for people who were abused, and helps right wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished for far too long and we cannot let this pandemic limit the ability for survivors to have their day in court,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“As New York continues to reopen and recover from a public health crisis, extending the look back window is the right thing to do and will help ensure that abusers and those who enabled them are held accountable.”
Cuomo also issued an emergency directive in May affording an added six months — until January 2021 — but the measure did not go as far as the bill signed into law sponsored by state Sen. Brad Hoyman (D-Manhattan) and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), longtime CVA advocates.
The CVA has brought a torrent of cases against institutions like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America.
Jeff Herman, an attorney who has handled 750 cases over the last year on behalf of sex abuse survivors, said the extension’s timing could not be better.
“The CVA extension is an important Bill recognizing the impact Covid has had on an already vulnerable population. I’ve heard from many survivors who are dealing with the ramifications of Covid and therefore not in a position to focus on seeking justice for the horrific acts of sexual abuse that occurred to them as children,” Herman told The Post.
The law allows victims to file a civil lawsuit at any time before they turn 55 against alleged abusers as well as the private and public institutions that may have shielded those abusers, eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor and authorizes the state Office of Court Administration to streamline a timely review of filings.