Due to COVID-19, state lawmakers have been out of session for over two months and this week they finally reconvened to discuss more than two dozen coronavirus-inspired measures. Many lawmakers voted remotely, which is now allowed because of the pandemic under changes in the internal rules of the two houses put into place.
Several new COVID-19 inspired consumer protections, including the Child Victims Act, are set to be approved by the time lawmakers end this week’s session.
The focus is on virus related bills, however, because adult victims of childhood sex abuse have had limited or reduced access to file a civil suit, the assembly is due to vote to further extend the window for victims of child sexual abuse to file civil suits beyond statute of limitations restrictions. The Child Victims Act has been empowering adult survivors of childhood sex abuse to come forward in New York to file civil cases under the special statute of limitations provision. Cuomo recently extended the CVA by six months until January because of the delays due to closures in the court system due to COVID-19.
Manhattan Democrat and sponsor of the Child Victims Act in the Senate, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, called the additional year to bring cases necessary because of the delays with COVID-19. Many victims need more time than the original one-year window, both legally and emotionally, to commence a case.
Hoylman said that the rationale for the case filing extension – a route already taken in other states – “was certainly compounded by the pandemic.” He said child abuse survivors “have, like most New Yorkers, had their lives turned upside down by Covid-19 and can’t be expected to make time-consuming and important decisions about whether to go forward with a claim against an abuser or an institution that may have protected that abuser.”
“The Child Victims Act has provided recourse to survivors of abuse, wherever and whenever it occurred. Regardless of the status of the CVA, the Catholic Church will continue to focus on supporting and ministering to survivors, no matter how long ago it occurred,” the group said Tuesday.