We’re glad you asked!
Here at Bivona, we’ve talked about how we think it’s an important bill because it extends the statute of limitations to a victim’s 50th birthday – which is a HUGE jump from the current cut-off of a victim’s 23rd birthday. But as monumental as that is, there’s more to it than that.
Under current law, child sexual abuse offenses cannot be prosecuted once 5 years have passed from the victim’s 18th birthday. And civil lawsuits for this conduct have to be brought within 3 years of the victim’s 18th birthday. This law has a restrictive effect on child sexual abuse survivors because most young victims aren’t able to process their assault and clearly and coherently bring about charges for it within 5 years of their 18th birthday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will be speaking about the Child Victims Act as part of his State of the State Address this afternoon at 2 p.m. has vowed to pass the act within the first 100 days of the current legislative session as part of his Justice Agenda.
If he’s successful, there will be some sweeping changes in how child sexual abuse cases are handled in New York State. Here’s a full breakdown of how current legislation will change if the Child Victims Act is passed:
As stated, the legislation allows victims of sexual crimes against minors to bring forth a civil lawsuit any time before they turn 50 years old. This increases the current statute of limitations by 27 years.
By raising the statute of limitations, it also increases the amount of time the perpetrators of these crimes may be held criminally accountable for their actions.
The law includes a one-year revival period for previously time-barred civil actions alleging sexual offense against a minor – opening the door for survivors who have been restricted from bringing official actions against their abuses, to finally have their day in court.
This legislation also eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor. Currently, notice of claim provisions are specific and restrictive, and in many cases the complexity of the provisions may keep survivors from commencing legal action against abusers.
Judicial training on crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors will become mandatory.
The Office of Court Administration will be allowed to put into effect rules and regulations for timely recourse for cases brought up during the revival period.
The Child Victims Act is a huge win for sexual abuse survivors, and will hopefully help many adult survivors of child abuse find the closure they need after abuse – closure that has been long-denied due to the Senate stalemate.
To learn more about Cuomo’s plans for New York State in 2019, and learn more about his Justice Agenda, catch a live stream of Cuomo’s State of the State Address at 2 p.m.