In 2002, the Boston Globe newspaper exposed an organized system of clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Victims have since been identified across the United States. In 2018 alone, a Pennsylvania grand jury report identified 1,000 victims of approximately 300 abusive clergy members. These two events were catalysts for legislative change in many states, including ours. In February 2019, New York lawmakers signed the Child Victims Act (CVA) into law. This act expands legal protections for victims of sexual assault. It does this in three significant ways:

  1. The CVA extends the legal deadline to file criminal and civil charges against a sexual abuser.
  2. The CVA created a “look back” window during which any victim can file a civil claim against his or her abuser.  A victim can file a claim regardless of his or her age at the time of abuse.
  3. The CVA allows victims to file a lawsuit without filing a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor.

These protections in New York have been extended in light of the Coronavirus Crisis. With delayed court dockets, stay at home orders, and social distress, New York Legislators felt victims deserved more time to move forward with their claims. Databases of known abusers have been curated. Victims are encouraged to learn about the resources available to them.

"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."

Under the CVA’s new “look back” window, child sexual abuse survivors may file an expired civil lawsuit in New York State courts until August 14, 2021.Victims are encouraged to learn about the resources available to them here."