NY Child Victims Act Must Be Extended

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New York’s Child Victims Act will expire on August 14, 2020, unless the state Legislature acts to extend the deadline. Because of the coronavirus, the CVA filings have been halted since March when it was decided that CVA claims are not essential.

In February 2019, just after the CVA was signed into law, I co-authored an article about the CVA for the NY City Bar. Here is what I wrote,

The Child Victims Act (CVA) extends the statute of limitations for a survivor of child sexual abuse in criminal and civil cases in New York. This means there is now more time for a survivor of child sexual abuse to press criminal charges. And, in civil cases, the CVA extends the period of time during which a survivor of child sexual abuse can file a claim for money damages. The CVA also allows claims to be filed against institutions that may have been involved in the abuse. Judges will also receive special training in dealing with cases involving child sexual abuse.”

Like all of us, those who have filed a claim under the Child Victims Act and those who want to, are stuck in limbo. The courts are essentially closed and the deadline for filing claims is approaching quickly. If the deadline passes without an extension, untold numbers of childhood survivors will be left once again without justice, in a particularly cruel twist of fate.

According to WGRZ, “Earlier this year, downstate Senator Brad Hoylman proposed a bill that would add another year to that window because of the hundreds of cases that have already been filed.

Hoylman said other states with similar laws gave victims more than a year to file the suits, and he says New York should do the same.

During Governor Cuomo's daily COVID-19 updates, his secretary, Melissa DeRosa, said last week there was no conversation about an extension to the legal window in budget talks.

Holyman told the New York Law Journal state Senate raised the Child Victims Act extension in budget negotiations and was discussed, but it was rejected at some point.”

Those who suffered childhood sexual abuse waited decades for justice. Year after year, their hopes were dashed as NY legislators rejected bills that would provide them justice. Finally, in February 2019, the Child Victims Act passed and Governor Cuomo signed it. The courts were swamped with filings until the coronavirus hit. Now, those who were sexually abused as children can’t file claims because the courts are essentially closed to them. We need an extension of the Child Victims Act. How could anyone deny that this year’s confluence of events necessitates legislative action? How could legislators who voted for the CVA not turn their backs on survivors? And Governor Cuomo-I know he is rightly preoccupied with the safety of all New Yorkers during this pandemic, but he was particularly proud of this law.

We have a little more than four months before the deadline. We must act now. The deadline can be extended in the interests of justice as it has been in other states. In this time of crisis, let’s do the right thing.

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