New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation extending the Child Victims Act look back window a full year. This look back window completely removes the statute of limitations to file sexual abuse lawsuits for a selected period of time, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.
On August 3, Governor Cuomo signed the extension into law, lengthening the special claim filing period by an additional year. Originally, New York sexual abuse survivors had until August 14, 2020 to file claims. Now, sexual abuse lawsuits can be filed under the Child Victims Act until August 14, 2021, a full year later than the initial end date.
The Child Victims Act was first signed into legislation on February 14, 2019. This bill allows victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to pursue legal action against their abusers in civil court. Even claims that were previously considered “ineligible” under previous statute of limitations can be renewed with the passing of the Child Victims Act.
However, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across and continues to impact the U.S., the fallout of the virus has halted the judicial system. This chain effect has made it difficult for survivors to file claims before the Child Victims Act’s original deadline. Governor Cuomo hopes the one-year deadline extension will allow abuse survivors in New York more time to file claims and reach justice for their abuse.
"The Child Victims Act brought a long-needed pathway to justice for people who were abused, and helps right wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished for far too long and we cannot let this pandemic limit the ability for survivors to have their day in court," Governor Cuomo said. "As New York continues to reopen and recover from a public health crisis, extending the look back window is the right thing to do and will help ensure that abusers and those who enabled them are held accountable."
For decades New York laws only allowed sexual abuse survivors until the age of 23 years old to file a civil lawsuit against people and institutions for their abuse. With the signing of the Child Victims Act into law, in addition to the look back window, the age for filing a claim for childhood abuse was extended to 55 years old. Already, over 3,000 sexual abuse survivors in New York have come forward to seek justice under the Child Victims Act.