Child Victims Act Look Back Period Extended Due to COVID

the Child Victims Act gives New York victims of childhood abuse the chance to file a lawsuit

Victims of childhood sexual abuse can now file legal claims under the Child Victims Act (CVA) until August 14, 2021, even if the alleged abuse occurred before the previous statute of limitations cutoff.

In May of 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed legislation extending the “look back” window for victims to file claims under the Child Victims Act to January 2021, regardless of when or how long ago the abuse happened, as long as the victim was underage when it occurred. But now that deadline has once again been extended due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19.

What Is the Child Victims Act?

The Child Victims Act increases the amount of time during which the perpetrators of crimes can be held criminally accountable. It was brought into effect last year and has already given an avenue for justice to thousands of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Moving forward, this act extends the statute of limitations for underage sexual assault cases.

  • For criminal cases, a claim can be filed until the victim is 28 years old, which is a five-year extension from the previous age limit of 23.
  • For civil cases, a claim can be filed until the victim is 55 years old.

These new standards apply to all victims who suffer abuse beginning from the time of the CVA’s introduction in 2019 moving forward. However, for victims whose childhood abuse occurred before 2019, the previous statutes of limitations will continue to apply, meaning victims must file both civil and criminal claims before they turn 23.

The “look back” period temporarily overrides these previous statutes of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases, meaning that until August 14, 2021, victims can file for cases of childhood abuse independent of how long ago they occurred.

This period also allows survivors of childhood sexual assault to file claims even if previous claims were dismissed because the statute had expired or if a Notice of Claim was never filed.

Positive Results of the CVA

The act offers a pathway that has been long needed in order to get justice for survivors of childhood abuse. The act is designed to help ensure penalty for wrongs that have been left unpunished for too long.

The pandemic has upended the court system, so there are many survivors of child sexual abuse whose cases or ability to file claims may have been delayed due to the upheavals caused by COVID-19 in both legal and personal spheres. Now that New York is beginning to reopen and recover from the crisis, extending the “look back” window will help to ensure that abusers are brought to justice, and those who enabled them are held accountable. 

So far, the Child Victims Act has allowed more than 3,000 survivors to seek justice. The extension will mean that more New Yorkers have the chance to hold their abusers, and the institutions that harbored them, accountable. 

There were many survivors who feared that the pandemic and the closure of the courts meant that the clock would run out on their chance to seek the justice they deserve. By signing this bill, Governor Cuomo has made sure that all those seeking an extended time period to prosecute for the abuse done to them now have until at least August 2021.

If you have any questions about a potential abuse lawsuit, be sure to contact a reputable sexual assault lawyer, like Partner Marie Napoli. Ms. Napoli has successfully represented survivors against their harassers and abusers, giving her clients control, dignity and justice.

Ms. Napoli also regularly appears on numerous national television networks to provide legal commentary on the MeToo Movement, Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial and workplace sexual discrimination. Recently, Ms.Napoli and her client Charity Carson appeared on the Dr. Oz Show to discuss Ms. Carson’s alleged assault by adult film actor Ron Jeremy.

Ms. Napoli’s articles on these topics, Child Victims Act is a Step Toward Healing and Lawyer Viewpoint: Marie Napoli on the Law on Sex Addicts and Weinstein, have been published on the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association web site and by the New York Law Journal respectively.

Our experienced lawyers will take the time to listen to you. If you need a confidential consultation, please contact us. We will review your legal options with you and there is no obligation, but we can help you file your claim within the correct time frame and give your case the best chance of success.