Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) hosted a seminar Tuesday in Richmond Hill to highlight the Child Victim Acts’ extension of the rights of individuals in New York who were victims of sexual abuse.
In the past, victims of child sexual abuse were restricted to age 18 in filing a suit against their perpetrators or institutions, according to Weprin’s Office. The CVA lengthens the age limitation and allows victims to file a criminal suit until they are 23.
Victims’ over the age of 23 have a one-year window known as a “look back” period to file a civil lawsuit regardless of when the offense took place, according to Weprin’s office. Civil lawsuits were also extended from age 23 to 55.
In 2017, The United States Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 2,158 children were sexually abused, according to Weprin’s Office.
There were no breakdowns by county, but nationwide there were 58,144 cases of child sex abuse, according to HHS.
“It is my hope that local community members will be able to use the information from this seminar to seek justice for themselves or help others in their community seek justice,” said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. “The Child Victims Act is a historic victory for child sex abuse survivors and we need to make sure that people know how to use it to hold their victimizers accountable.”
Advocates from institutions like the Zero Abuse Project, a leading nonprofit dedicated to stopping child sexual abuse and assisting survivors, believe the numbers from HHS were under-reported.
“Under the Child Victims Act, survivors of child sexual abuse can now seek justice and hold predators and the institutions that covered for them accountable for decades of abuse,” said Jeffery Dion, executive director of the Zero Abuse Project. “Moving forward, the new law also removes the perverse incentives for institutions to cover abuse as they can no longer just wait out a short statute of limitations to protect their reputation. The Child Victims Act is in fact our most powerful tool to stop abuse and protect kids.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act in February, and it is to go into effect August 14.
The law also eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor; requires judicial training with respect to crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors; and authorizes the Office of Court Administration to promulgate rules and regulations for the timely adjudication of revived actions, according to the Gov.’s office.
“Survivors who endured unimaginable pain came forward with great courage and sacrificed their own privacy to make a change for others. This bill brings justice to people who were abused, and rights the wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished for too long,” said Cuomo. “We are saying nobody is above the law, that the cloak of authority is not impenetrable, and that if you violate the law, we will find out and you will be punished and justice will be done.”