How many years should a child sexual abuse survivor have to file a civil lawsuit following an assault? According to some New York State lawmakers, 50 years sounds about right.
Historically in New York State, victims of child sexual abuse had a very narrow statute of limitations to bring a civil lawsuit seeking justice for past abuses. Most victims of childhood abuse had until their 23rd birthday to bring civil actions. For those who were in the state or privately contracted systems, any civil lawsuit claiming sexual abuse must be filed with 90 days of the alleged attack.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has publicly announced his support of the Child Victims Act, which completely removes any statute of limitations on prosecuting perpetrators of child sex abuse. It similarly would allow victims of child sex abuse to bring civil lawsuits seeking damages up to 50 years from when they were attacked.
For those who thought their time to act had passed, the proposed bill would provide a one-year look-back window for survivors who under current law can no longer bring cases.
This law is long overdue. Children’s rights advocates, prosecutors, and civil attorneys who sue on behalf of victims of sexual abuse know that it often takes years – or even decades – for memories to resurface or for victims of abuse to process what occurred and gain the emotional capacity to come forward. If this bill passes, numerous youth servicing organizations, schools, and religious organizations including the eight Catholic Dioceses in the State of New York may soon be flooded with claims: Archdiocese of New York, Diocese of Albany, Diocese of Brooklyn, Diocese of Buffalo, Diocese of Ogdensburg, Diocese of Rochester, Diocese of Rockville Centre, and Diocese of Syracuse
Our firm actively investigates and is handling claims of abuse throughout New York. We support this proposal and the promise of closure it can bring to survivors of sexual assault.
Adam Horowitz is a nationally acclaimed attorney for victims of sexual abuse and is known among his peers as an aggressive and passionate advocate. If you or someone you know has as questions about New York’s Child Victims Act or wants to discuss such a claim, please email attorney Adam Horowitz at [email protected] or call our law firm at (954) 641-2100.