In May, the New York State Assembly and Senate voted to extend the deadline for New Yorkers who were sexually abused as children to file legal claims. This is a major victory for the victims of childhood sexual abuse who have yet to come forward.
Child Victims Act
The Child Victims Act allowed for a one-year period for allegations to be brought that occurred outside of the statute of limitations. This period was set to expire on August 14, 2020, but has now been extended by one additional year. Advocates and survivors had been pressing for an extension, especially in light of disruptions caused by the coronavirus. However, calls for an extension predated the pandemic.
The Child Victims Act triggered a wave of important litigation against abusers and the institutions, such as schools, churches, and youth groups, that enabled them. This legislation significantly extended the statute of limitations for criminal and civil cases involving childhood sexual abuse. The lookback window was a crucial part of this legislation. It allows for a period of time that cases that were otherwise time-barred could be brought forward.
This legislation is so important because it recognizes that survivors of trauma don’t always come forward right away to face their abusers. The science of trauma makes it clear that it takes time for survivors to come forward. Before the Child Victims Act, by the time many survivors came forward, it was too late for them to pursue justice. Now survivors have until they are 55 years old to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers and the institutions that enabled the abuse.
The lookback period allows them to go even beyond that limitation, meaning that survivors who were abused decades ago can now seek justice. Lookback periods aren’t new in this type of legislation. California has a three-year window while New Jersey and North Carolina have two-year windows. A longer lookback window means more survivors can learn about the rights and take time to make a difficult decision about whether they want to file a lawsuit.
Contact a Child Victims Act Attorney
If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you should consult with an experienced Child Victims Act attorney. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have been working hard to help survivors pursue justice. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.