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Child Victims Act

Our Firm’s commitment to social justice is evident through our representation of survivors of childhood sexual assaults. Because of the many difficulties in reporting sexual abuse and the institutional obstacles survivors face after coming forward, survivors typically do not speak out until well into adulthood. The New York Child Victims Act (“CVA”), approved by the New York State Legislature and Governor in February 2019, addresses the reality of delayed reporting by reviving sex abuse actions that were previously time-barred under New York law.

Under the CVA, survivors can file a civil case against 1) their abuser and/or 2) the private or public institutions that may have also been involved in the abuse, acted to protect the abuser, or were negligent in preventing the abuse or in protecting the survivor.

Our Firm’s Child Victims Act practice includes attorneys who have experience investigating sexual abuse claims and prosecuting criminal cases from inception to verdict or judgment.  They are familiar with New York’s child welfare and justice systems and the life-long impact that childhood physical and sexual abuse can have upon survivors, bringing individualized and trauma-informed advocacy to bear on the unique challenges in prosecuting these often decades-old claims. Please see here to learn more about the Firm’s current CVA litigation. If you have any questions regarding the CVA, we invite you to review the information below and to let us know how we can help you.

Prior Law

Prior to the passage of the CVA, all survivors had from a one- to five-year statute of limitations period to bring a civil lawsuit against their abuser after they turned eighteen years old, as described below. Survivors had:

  1. five years, after they turned eighteen, to bring a civil action for injuries suffered as a result of rape and certain other types of non-consensual sexual conduct;
  2. three years, after they turned eighteen, to bring other types of civil claims (such as negligence) in relation to sexual abuse;
  3. one year, after they turned eighteen, to bring civil claims for assault and battery for injuries suffered as a result of other types of sexual abuse.

In other words, depending on the type of sexual abuse, a survivor could run out of time to file a lawsuit by the time they reached age 23, or, in some cases, as explained above, as early as 19.

What the CVA Means for Survivors

Under the CVA, survivors who ran out of time to file claims under the old statute of limitations periods, described above, are given a one year period to pursue these civil claims. The CVA created a one-year window of time between August 14, 2019 to August 14, 2020 for survivors whose claims had already expired to pursue civil cases against “any party whose intentional or negligent acts or omissions are alleged to have resulted” in the commission of sexual offenses. Now, survivors who ran out of time to file claims under the old statute of limitations periods, described above, may do so until August 14, 2020.

Through the CVA, most survivors have been given an opportunity to file claims against their sexual abusers regardless of when the sexual abuse occurred. This is a unique right that enables survivors who were not able to file a claim previously because of the expiration of state statute of limitations to do so from August 14, 2019 to August 14, 2020.

Extension for Younger Survivors

The CVA also addresses challenges faced by some survivors still under the age of twenty-three (“Younger Survivors”) by providing them the opportunity to file claims up to the age of fifty-five. This exception applies only to Younger Survivors whose claims had not already expired under the old statute of limitations periods listed in Nos. 1-3 above when the CVA was passed on February 14, 2019. If the statute of limitations periods listed in Nos. 1-3 above have expired for a Younger Survivor’s claim, the Younger Survivor only has until August 14, 2020 to file their claim. For those civil claims that are not yet expired, Younger Survivors have until they reach the age of fifty-five to file their claims.