Time limit extended for sex abuse victims to file claims under New York Child Victims Act

Courtesy of the Governor’s Office

The coronavirus pandemic has forced Governor Andrew Cuomo to extend the deadline for filing new childhood sexual abuse claims under New York’s Child Victims Act.

The legislation enacted last year allowed for sex abuse survivors in cases that had been time-barred or expired to file a claim by Aug. 14, 2020. But the pandemic led to a reduction in court service, thus limiting the ability for survivors’ attorneys to file and prepare cases.

“Because of the reduction in court services, we want to extend that window and we’ll extend it for an additional five months until Jan. 14, [2021], because people need access to the courts to make their claim,” Cuomo said during his Friday daily briefing. “Justice too long delayed is justice denied, Martin Luther King Jr. said. So we will extend that window for people to bring their case.”

Manhattan state Senator Brad Hoylman applauded Cuomo’s decision, but noted that the dire state of New York’s economy will further hinder the ability of many sex abuse survivors to make their claim even under the extended deadline.

Hoylman and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal are sponsoring legislation that would extend the look-back window for the Child Victims Act by a full year.

“As the unemployment rate spikes above 14%, it’s unreasonable to expect survivors of child sexual abuse to do the emotional and legal work necessary to file CVA lawsuits while simultaneously fighting to pay rent and put food on the table,” Hoylman said in a statement. “Survivors need the assurance that New York will stand with them, even after the pandemic ends. That’s why we must pass my legislation with Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal to extend the Child Victims Act’s look-back window by a full twelve months.”

The Child Victims Act allows individuals who were sexually abused to file claims against not only their attacker, but also public and private institutions with whom the attacker was affiliated. It took more than a decade for the act to become law, as New York’s Catholic churches and other organizations opposed it year after year due to feared repercussions of the expanded liability.

Hoylman and Rosenthal were among the key sponsors of the Child Victims Act enacted in February 2019.