Understanding New York’s Child Victims and the Statute of Limitations
An estimated 12-40% of children in the United States experience some form of child sexual abuse. There are many reasons that prevent survivors from disclosing abuse. It can be decades survivors of abuse can speak about it.
Children are vulnerable to exploitation and deception, especially under the supervision of a teacher or clergy member. Seeking justice from an abuser takes courage and trusted support. In the past, abused children had until their 23rd birthday to stand up and accuse their abuser in a civil lawsuit.
As a result, many adults never saw justice served.
Why? In many cases, simply because they were not ready to tell what happened before the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse ran out.
The New York Child Victims Act has changed those limits. Read on to learn more.
The statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes to Change
Survivors and their supports have been pressing for passage of the Child Victims Act for 12 years. In early 2019, it was brought to a vote and passed unanimously. On February 14, 2019, Cuomo signed the bill.
The new law extends the statute of limitations. This is to give victims more time to seek criminal charges or sue their abusers. It also opens a one year window for adults victims who were previously prevented by the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse to file suit and get the justice they deserve.
The law will go into effect six months after Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature.
As mentioned, the Child Victims Act includes a one year window for adult victims denied justice in the past by the statute of limitations. They may file civil lawsuits against abusers and institutions.
For current victims (children being abused today) the new statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse will be when the victim is 55 years old. Public institutions like schools and private institutions like churches are equally treated.
The Open Window to Seek Justice
The Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America and many other institutions, opposed the new statute of limitations laws. They dropped their opposition in early 2019, in part due to public outcry. Adult victims may seek justice from private and public institutions equally.
If you were a victim of childhood abuse and the statute of limitations for sex crimes expired before you found the strength to speak out, you now have a chance to see justice done. The one year window for those adults who missed their first opportunity to seek a civil suit against abusers opens in the summer of 2019 through the summer of 2020.
Attorney Steve Boyd has been investigating child sexual abuse since 1993. He has become an advocate for survivors and their families. Our firm can guide you through the process and help you find the healing and justice you need. Call us today!