A Queens lawmaker wants sexual abuse survivors to know their rights concerning the statute of limitations under the Child Victims Act, which the governor signed into law earlier this year.
Assemblyman David Weprin, members of the Zero Abuse Project and the chief of the district attorney’s child abuse unit held a seminar detailing CVA rights. Dozens of Queens residents gathered at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens in Jamaica to learn about the expansion of the state’s formerly restrictive statute of limitations.
The legislation, which Weprin has co-sponsored since 2015, gives survivors of childhood sexual abuse a path to justice while holding abusers criminally and civilly accountable.
“It is my hope that local community members will be able to use the information from this seminar to seek justice for themselves or help others in their community seek justice,” Weprin said. “The Child Victims Act is a historic victory for child sex abuse survivors and we need to make sure that people know how to use it to hold their victimizers accountable. I thank the Zero Abuse Project and the Queens district attorney’s office for their tireless work on this issue.”
Prior to the CVA’s establishment, New York had one of the most restrictive statutes of limitations in the country. The old statute gave victims until they were 23 to file lawsuits or seek criminal charges against their abusers.
Beginning on Aug. 14, survivors over 23 can utilize a “look back” period, a one-year window which allows them to file a civil lawsuit against perpetrators or institutions regardless of when the offense took place.
The CVA also raised the statute of limitations for criminal and civil actions. The criminal statute of limitations will be extended five years from 18 to 23 while the civil statute will be extended from 23 to 55.
“I want to thank Assemblyman Weprin for his efforts to assist survivors and protect the children of New York from future abuse. Because of this work, under the Child Victims Act, survivors of child sexual abuse can now seek justice and hold predators and the institutions that covered for them accountable for decades of abuse,” said Jeffery Dion, executive director of the Zero Abuse Project. “Moving forward, the new law also removes the perverse incentives for institutions to cover abuse as they can no longer just wait out a short statute of limitations to protect their reputation. The Child Victims Act is in fact our most powerful tool to stop abuse and protect kids.”
According to the United States of Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 2,158 children in New York were victims of sexual abuse in 2017. But advocates said that these crimes are “greatly underreported.”