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New York State Child Victims Act: Justice for Abuse Victims

On Monday, January 28, 2019, The New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act one step closer to becoming law. Soon it will be much easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice as adults. Sexual abuse is a crime that sends shivers of revulsion through the public, especially when the victim of the abuse is only a child. Now, thanks to New York lawmakers, perpetrators may soon no longer be able to hide behind the statute of limitations. The Child Victims Act will open up a one year window for adult victims of childhood sex abuse to file lawsuits against their attackers and will extend the current statute of limitations for civil and criminal suits as well.

Pursuing Justice Through the Child Victims Act

With the passing of the Child Victims Act, many victims of sex abuse in New York now face the question of whether to file suit for their trauma, and the Parker Waichman law firm stands ready to assist these victims of childhood sex abuse. Under the Child Victims Act, a sex abuse lawsuit can be pursued:

  • If you or a loved one have been a victim of sexual abuse as a minor
  • If you have not already received compensation for sexual abuse already
  • If you are under age 55

If you meet these qualifications we strongly recommend that you use our contact form to receive a free, private, no obligation case consultation from one of our experienced attorneys here at Parker Waichman.

New York State Child Victims Act Applicable to Victims of Jeffrey Epstein

With news that financier Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested and charged with sex trafficking, victims in New York can potentially pursue legal action against him under the New York State Child Victims Act. The act, which became law in February, gives victims of child abuse more time to file claims against their abusers.

Federal Complain Alleges Decades of Sexual Abuse

The federal complaint filed in New York against hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein alleges that he forced women and underage girls to engage in sexual acts and recruit other women and girls into doing the same. The allegations span decades of time and detail abuse at several of Epstein’s properties, including some in Florida and New York.

At the time of Epstein’s arrest, investigators found a large number of photos that Epstein had been keeping in a safe in his Manhattan, New York, mansion. The photos depicted nude or partially nude woman and girls, many of whom were underage. The complaint alleges that some of Epstein’s victims were only 14 years old at the time of the abuse.

Child Victims Act Allows More Time for Justice

In February 2019, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the New York State Child Victims Act into law. The Act is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that provides victims of child abuse additional time to file criminal and civil claims. Prior to its passage, victims could file criminal claims up to age 23 (meaning child victims could pursue claims until they turned 23 years old), and they could file civil claims within a fixed time period.

The Child Victims Act extends the time for filing criminal cases to age 28 and created a statute of limitations for civil claims that is also based on age, not on time elapsed since the abuse. Victims of child sexual abuse can now file civil claims in the state of New York until age 55. This is true no matter how long ago the abuse took place.

In addition, victims who were previously barred from pursuing claims now have a one-year window of time to file a cause of action. The one-year time window began running on the day that the Child Victims Act was signed into law. Contact Parker Waichman LLP to further discuss the Act and how it is applicable to your case.

How the Child Victims Act Changes Victimhood in New York

The Child Victims Act was passed to adjust the inadequate state of the statute of limitations currently in place for child victims of sexual abuse. Under previous laws, survivors could only press charges until the age of 23 and the charges were only valid under the condition that the crime was reported within 90 days of its occurrence.

The Child Victims Act will lengthen the statute of limitations on the sexual abuse of children to the age of 28 for criminal cases and the age of 55 in civil cases. In addition to granting criminal and civil proceedings much more time to prosecute, the law will also implement a one-year window in which any case invalidated by the statute of limitations expiration, meaning anyone over the age of 23, would be valid for one year from the time of the law’s passing. The date of that passage is either the date that it is signed into law by the governor or some other specified date within the law.

For more details on the Child Victims Act, see Parker Waichman’s coverage of the story here.

Battling the Opponents of the Child Victims Act

Although the current New York State Legislature finally succeeded in moving the Child Victims Act closer to becoming a law, the road has not been one of unanimous approval. The New York Senate had previously shot down this proposed legislation. Opponents included come private institutions, the Catholic Church, and the Boy Scouts of America to name a few. Earlier this month, however, Dennis Poust of the Catholic Conference released a statement that the Catholic Church did not oppose the bill as long as it included equal treatment of sexual abuse from public and private institutions alike. Other opponents of the bill have cited the clauses allowing victims the one-year period to file suit as potentially ruinous financially and potentially congestive to the court system.

Despite the critics and detractors of the bill, politicians and victim support groups have both stated support for the Child Victims Act, and were successful in their efforts to pass this important legislation on behalf of New York sex abuse victims. If you or a loved one were the victim of sex abuse, please request a case evaluation from Parker Waichman today.

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