After years of being blocked by a Republican-controlled legislature, the Child Victims Act, sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman’s and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, has finally been passed by the New York State Senate. As reported by The New York Times, for the past 13 years, activists and Democratic officials in the state of New York have fought to strengthen protections for childhood abuse victims, only to face significant resistance from powerful interests groups including insurance companies, private schools, and leaders from the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish communities.
After winning control of the Senate in November, Democrats were able to set the wheels in motion to sway the legislature in their favor and on Monday, both the Senate and NY Assembly overwhelmingly approved the Child Victims Act, with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo promising to sign the bill into law.
According to the Times, “under the new law, prosecutors could bring criminal charges until a victim turned 28, and victims could sue until age 55. The bill would also create a one-year ‘look-back window,’ during which old claims that had already passed the statute of limitations could be revived.” This makes for a significant expansion of the time frame in which abuse suits can be brought forward.
Many other U.S. states allow child sexual abuse claims to be brought decades after the assault occurs and nine have no statutes of limitations at all.
“It gives meaning and purpose to everything I and my fellow survivors have gone through,” said Brian R. Toale, a childhood sex abuse survivor and Long Island native who has traveled to the state capital for years to press legislators on the Child Victims Act.
To learn how you can protect your rights or file a confidential sexual abuse lawsuit, or for information on Lieff Cabraser’s work on behalf of victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault across the U.S., visit our sexual abuse and misconduct cases page.