It is well understood that the horrors of child sexual abuse can be so devastating and frightening that victims often wait well into adulthood to report that they were attacked during their youth. When these stories are given media attention, it is not uncommon for someone in their 40s, 50s or 60s to talk openly about their mistreatment for the first time. With that in mind, serious efforts began in 2006 to significantly extend New York’s statute of limitations for child sexual abuse lawsuits as well as the time period for criminal prosecutions.
Though the measure would seem to have enjoyed widespread legislative support, it took 13 years for the Child Victims Act to become law in New York State. In two instances, the bill passed the Assembly but died in the Senate. The significance of the new law might be reflected in the concerns raised by institutions where abuse was rampant. Specific provisions of the Child Victims Act include:
- Permission to file claims that were barred — A one-year “look back” period begins August 14, 2019. During this timeframe child sexual abuse claims that were time-barred under the old law are revived. This could have a serious impact on the Catholic Church and other organizations who believed they were clear of legal liability.
- Civil suits permitted through age 55 — Young victims of sexual abuse are often shamed or intimidated into silence. The new law extends by more than 30 years the period in which a victim can lodge a claim. Now, people are able to take action until they reach age 55, up from age 23 under the prior law.
- Increased criminal liability — The statute of limitations has also been extended for criminal charges. Prosecutions may now be brought until the victim is 28 years old, five years longer than under the prior law
An attorney with experience advocating for child abuse victims will give you the information you need to determine whether you have a viable cause of action under the Child Victims Act against your abuser and the institution that failed to protect you.
Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson delivers strong advice and advocacy to New York victims of child sexual abuse. Even if you’ve been told that no legal remedy exists, we can discuss your case in a free consultation. To schedule an appointment, please call [ln::phone] or contact us online.