(Albany, NY) The Senate Majority Conference today passed the Child Victims Act (S.2440) and reformed New York State’s outdated statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. The Child Victims Act will raise the criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes by five years and raise the civil statute of limitations for causes of action brought by someone seeking redress for physical, psychological or other injury caused by child sexual abuse to age 55. Additionally, this legislation will create a one-year window, starting six months from the effective date of the bill, for past victims of child sexual abuse to initiate lawsuits against their abusers and the public and private institutions that let the abuse happen. The bill will eliminate onerous “notice of claim” requirements that create hurdles for victims to sue public institutions that negligently allowed the abuse to occur, during both the revival window and going forward.
“When we took up this fight for the Child Victims Act, none of us thought it was going to be this tough or take this long,”Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “Government has a responsibility to stand up for the survivors of these heinous crimes. That is why the Senate Democratic Majority has been fighting alongside survivors and advocates for years to pass the Child Victims Acts and remove the barriers that have been protecting predators. I’ve been proud to work with Senator Brad Hoylman, who has championed and shepherded this legislation, and I commend him on its passage. Justice is finally being delivered.”
Bill Sponsor, Senator Brad Hoylman said, “For years, survivors of child sexual abuse have looked to Albany for justice but their pleas have gone unanswered in the New York State Senate. The impasse ends today under Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Finally, survivors will have the opportunity to seek justice against their abusers and hold any institutions who harbored them accountable. We would not be here today without the fierce advocacy of survivors across New York State. When the political leaders in this state refused to listen, you bravely told your stories. You demanded action. You created a movement. Now, as you seek justice, New York will stand with you.”
The Child Victims Act passed by the Senate Majority will:
- Extend the criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse offenses by five years, giving survivors until age 28 to press charges for felonies and age 25 for misdemeanors.
- Extend the statute of limitations in civil actions arising from child sexual abuse, which currently range from one to five years at most, to allow survivors to bring suits until they reach age 55.
- Create a one-year window during which presently time-barred civil claims could be revived.
- Permit claims against both public and private institutions by explicitly eliminating the notice of claim requirement for bringing suits against public institutions both prospectively and during the revival window.
- Provide training for judges handling cases involving the sexual abuse of children.
Senator David Carlucci said, “Finally, in New York we are empowering the survivor and correcting a grave injustice. The Child Victims Act will allow survivors who were sexually abused as children to seek the justice they so rightfully deserve and no longer stay silent.”