As the nation’s hardest hit metro area, New York has seen tremendous changes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Cuomo has led efforts in responding to the crisis with an aggressive stay-at-home order and closure of non-essential businesses and many courts statewide. The closure of courts and law offices has especially impacted the rights of child sex abuse victims to file claims under the Child Victims Act.
In February 2019, New York Gov. Cuomo signed the New York State Child Victims Act (CVA) into law. The Act provides victims of child abuse additional time to file criminal and civil claims. Victims of child sexual abuse whose claims were not time-barred when the CVA became effective — generally anyone who was 21 years old or younger at that time — has until 55 years of age. For all other victims who were previously barred from pursing claims, a victim has one year (from August 14, 2019 to August 14, 2020) within which to file a claim.
However, just after the implementation of the CVA, the opportunity for victims to file lawsuits has come to an abrupt halt because of COVID-19. Due to the growing global pandemic, there is a pause on the filing of non-essential lawsuits in New York courts. All cases deemed non-essential are not to be filed as of March 23, 2020. This decision is aimed at limiting interaction and the spread of the Coronavirus. The move is likely to affect those seeking justice under the CVA.
Push to Extend the Lookback Window
In an effort to ensure child sex abuse survivors have the opportunity to seek the justice they deserve, the primary sponsors of the CVA – Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal – are now pushing to extend the revival window another 12 months. The unexpected interruption of the COVID-19 pandemic to the judicial system makes the need for extending the CVA more urgent than ever.
This extended lookback window, as outlined in bill S.7082/A.9036, would give victims until August 14, 2021 to file lawsuits against abusers and institutions where the abuse took place. If passed, the bill would allow individuals more time to deal with the emotional, financial, and, now, legal challenges as courts cannot currently take their cases.
If you or a loved one was the victim of child sexual abuse, you need to know how the Child Victims Act can help you get the justice you deserve. For more information or to better understand how this law can help you, please call our professional help center at 212-385-4410.