For many years, New York victims of child sexual assault had to race against the clock if they wished to seek justice against their abusers. If a victim hoped to take a perp to court, they had to do so before they turn 23 years old. However, a bill passed earlier in 2019 in New York has extended the statute of limitations for these victims. The bill that has made this possible is called the Child Victims Act.
What is the Child Victims Act?
The Child Victims Act is a bill passed that gives the victims of child sexual abuse an extra 32 years to report and file a claim against the sexual abuser, rather than adhering to an umbrella statute of limitations based on the amount of time that has passed since the attack. That means that, if you or someone you know, was attacked by a sexual predator as a child, you or they now have until they are 55 years old to seek justice, if the victim has a civil case against the attacker. If it is a criminal case you wish to pursue, you have until you are 28 years old. If the crime for which you wish to file a claim involves misdemeanor charges, you have until the age of 25 to file.
Also, this new law gives any victims one year to attempt previously void or belated claims. So, if you wanted to seek justice for a sexual abuse crime that occurred when you were a child, but the statute of limitations ran out before you could, you now have one year to file a civil claim and get a chance at the justice you deserve as a child sexual abuse survivor, no matter your current age.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Child Victims Act
Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Child Victims Act. This information should not be used as legal or professional advice regarding the act, but merely as an informational guide to learn about the new law and how it may be able to help you.
- Which sexual assault crime victims are protected? Anyone who experienced a sexual assault crime as a child (before the age of 18), including (but NOT limited to) predatory sexual assault and/or sexual assault OR abuse in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degrees, forced inappropriate touching, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree criminal sexual acts, and rape in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree. Be sure to check with a local lawyer or trusted information source for the full list of sexual abuse crimes covered by the Child Victims Act.
- Which organizations/institutions may be sued? Any and all which have a child sexual predator under their employee or acting as a volunteer. This may include after-school organizations and clubs, churches, and even public or private school.
- Does the Child victims act guarantee victims a successful lawsuit? While this law does make it much easier to seek justice, the victim still must provide sufficient proof of the attack for which they plan to sue. You may also need to take other steps to ensure the success of your case. It is important that you consult the proper legal counsel before attempting to proceed with your claim.
What Steps Should I Take to File My Claim?
First and foremost, you should talk to an attorney who specializes in child abuse victim cases. Consultations are usually free, and they can help you determine if you have a case, if the Child Victims Act covers you, and what they will need from you to begin your claim.
Then, gather any and all evidence or information they request from you. Your full cooperation is key to your lawyer’s success in your case. He or she will understand the suffering you have experienced, and they will be willing to do everything they can to help you get the justice you deserve.
Finally, follow their advice and recommendations to the letter. They are experts in their field, and they want to see your case succeed. Do not speak to anyone, including your attacker or any representative without your attorney’s explicit consent and/or without him or her being present when you do so. Your attorney will likely do the talking for you with the abuser’s attorney.