New York Rally Attendees Seek Nationwide Child Victims Act Expansion

Published on October 29, 2019 by Laurie Villanueva

Legislators and activists rallying outside the New York City mansion that once belonged to Jeffrey Epstein called on states across the nation to pass their own versions of the Child Victims Act.

“Congress is not capable of passing any legislation, it seems, to benefit these survivors,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, told the Albany Times-Union on Monday. “It’s up to state legislatures to follow New York’s lead and step into the void by assisting survivors of sexual violence.”

The New York Child Victims Act

The New York Child Victims Act became law in February, giving adult survivors of child sexual abuse much more time to seek justice against their abusers, as well as the institutions that enabled the abuse, by:

  • Extending the deadline for filing criminal felony charges until a victim’s 28th birthday.
  • Allowing survivors to file civil lawsuits until they turn 55.
  • Opening a one-year, one-time-only window allowing survivors of any age to file previously time-barred civil claims.

Since the one-year window opened on August 14th, more than 900 previously time-barred child sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed in courts across New York state. Defendants include the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, prominent schools and hospitals, pediatricians, coaches, and teachers.

Child Sexual Abuse Crosses State Lines

During yesterday’s rally, attendees pointed to Jeffrey Epstein as an example of child sexual abuse that sometimes crosses state lines. While several of the deceased financier’s alleged victims were abused at the same New York City mansion that served as the venue for the rally, others say they were abused in Florida, a state that has not adopted any legislation similar to the Child Victims Act.

In fact, just a handful of states, including California, Montana and Arizona, have enacted similar look-back periods. New Jersey will extend its sex abuse deadlines for adults and children next month.

New Bill Would Open 1-Year Window for Adult Abuse Victims

Yesterday’s rally also looked to garner support for the Adult Survivors Act, a new law proposed by Sen. Hoylman on Friday that would open a one-year filing window for those abused as adults. According to The New York Times, the proposal would cover a range of offenses, including rape, forcible touching, persistent sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and incest.

“There’s an implicit recognition that the statutes prior to this year were insufficient,” Sen. Hoylman told the Times. “It makes sense as a matter of restorative justice to give past survivors an opportunity for their day in court.”

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