The Child Victims Act was an important legislative step in the fight against child abuse in New York. The Act extended the criminal and civil statute of limitations period and made other changes that expanded the rights of children who were abused. One of the most important changes was the addition of a one-year lookback window.
The lookback window in the Child Victims Act allowed current survivors of childhood abuse who were barred by the statute of limitations, a one-year period within which they could file suit against their abusers or the institutions that enabled them. This one-year lookback period is set to expire in August of 2020, but some New York lawmakers are looking to make a change.
New legislation introduced in January looks to extend the lookback window beyond one year. Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan, a sponsor of the original legislation and the new law, stated that one year is simply not long enough and noted that the response to the lookback window so far shows that there is still work to be done. Victims of abuse may need more time to process their abuse and come to terms with suing their abuser. Acknowledging abuse and holding abusers accountable are big steps and it can take victims some time to make those steps. In addition, it can take substantial time to gather evidence and to get everything needed to put a case together.
Other states such as California and New Jersey already have multi-year lookback windows in their legislation. These states have recognized that it can often take adult survivors of abuse decades to come forward. Fear and uncertainty on the part of victims can take a long time to resolve. Legislators should side with the victims and pass this new legislation.
In addition, abuse survivor advocates have called on the state to enact a child victim reconciliation and compensation fund. This fund would help compensate survivors whose abusers were not part of a major institution with deep pockets like a church, school, or other organization.
Contact a Trusted New York Attorney
If you are a survivor of childhood abuse, you should explore your rights with a trusted and compassionate attorney. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we are at the forefront of protecting survivors. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.