For a long time, the victims of child sexual abuse faced massive hurdles toward justice. Statutes of limitation often closed the window on both criminal charges and civil claims against the abusers long before the victims were emotionally prepared to address what happened to them — let alone ready to discuss the abuse in court.
Amid ongoing outcries over the role of the Catholic Church in covering up molestations by members of the clergy over the decades and other high-profile cases that have brought into focus the way that abuse and trauma are processed by survivors, the state of New York passed the Child Victims Act (CVA). That has changed everything for victims.
If you were sexually abused as a child, this is how the CVA may help:
- Starting Aug. 14, 2019, a one-year “look back” period allows anyone, of any age, to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers and the institutions that negligently allowed the abuse to happen. It does not matter how long ago the abuse occurred if you file within that one-year period.
- Any survivor of sexual abuse for whom the old statute of limitations has not yet expired will now have until the age of 55 to pursue a claim against their abuser, or the public or private institution that permitted the abuse.
- Criminal charges can be pressed against the abuser until the victim is 28 years of age. Prior to the CVA, victims only had until they turned 23 to pursue charges.
This changes New York from one of the worst states, legally speaking, for the victims of sexual abuse, into one that offers the most protection.
If you suffered sexual abuse as a child, you have a right to seek justice. Find out more about how you can get the compensation you deserve and shine a light on high-profile sexual abusers. Don’t let this look-back period expire without taking action to protect your rights.