New York Lawmaker Wants to Extend Child Victims Act Filing Window

Published on January 9, 2020 by Sandy Liebhard

Nearly a year after the landmark passage of the Child Victims Act, a New York State lawmaker has proposed extending the one-year filing window that’s already allowed hundreds of alleged survivors to pursue decades-old sexual abuse claims.

1,300+ Child Victims Act Lawsuits Filed Since Window Opened

That window opened on August 14, 2019, and since then, some 1,700 plaintiffs across New York State have filed more than 1,300 previously time-barred sexual abuse lawsuits against various Roman Catholic dioceses, the Boy Scouts of America, and other entities that allegedly protected abusers and covered up their crimes, sometimes for decades.

While the filing window is set to expire on August 13, 2020, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, recently introduced a new bill that would extend the filing deadline for another year.

“Extending the length of the revival window would provide more time to notify New Yorkers about the new law and allow more survivors to seek the justice that was denied them by New York’s formerly prohibitive civil statute of limitations,” Hoylman wrote in his legislative justification for S.7082. “Several states that have enacted legislation similar to the Child Victims Act have opted to provide a revival window of longer than one year — most recently New Jersey, which provided a two-year window that opened in December 2019.”

New York Senate Considering New Sexual Abuse Legislation

The New York Child Victims Act became law last February, following a decade of opposition from the Catholic Church and other powerful institutions that feared its passage would unleash a wave of costly litigation.

In addition to creating the one-year filing window, the law also:

  • Extended the legal deadline for filing criminal felony charges against sexual abusers of children until a victim’s 28th birthday, rather than their 23rd birthday.
  • Extended the deadline to file civil lawsuits against perpetrators and institutions until a survivor’s 55th birthday.

Hoylman’s bill is just one proposal currently under consideration in the New York State Senate that would extend legal rights for sexual abuse survivors even further. In fact, he and Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D-Bronx recently introduced S.6810, the Adult Survivors Act, which would give plaintiffs one year to file previously time-barred claims for sexual abuse that allegedly occurred when they were over the age of 18. The legislation would also grant those claims special trial preference and require the development of new rules that would allow any such cases to be heard quickly.

Sen. James Gaughran, D-Northport, has also proposed (S.6847) creating a fund to help child sex abuse victims file and litigate their claims.

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