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Important Legislative Update

This morning, Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law. The legislation ensures that abusers can be held criminally and civilly accountable by extending the time in which survivors of childhood sexual abuse can seek justice. Under the old law, child sexual abuse offenses could not be prosecuted more than five years after their occurrence and civil lawsuits for this conduct had to be brought within three years of the victim’s 18th birthday.

The new legislation:

  1. Increases the amount of time during which perpetrators of these crimes may be held criminally accountable;
  2. Allows victims of these crimes to commence a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach 55 years of age;
  3. Provides victims whose claims have been time-barred a new opportunity for their day in court by opening a one-year window for them to commence their action;
  4. Eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor;
  5. Requires judicial training with respect to crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors;
  6. Authorizes the Office of Court Administration to promulgate rules and regulations for the timely adjudication of revived actions.

The revival period for otherwise time-barred claims commences six months after today’s enactment and lasts for one year.

We are grateful to the sponsors, Assemblywoman Rosenthal and Senator Hoylman, the Legislative Leaders, Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Governor Cuomo for their leadership on this issue and commend them for taking a strong stand in combatting child sexual abuse.