What is the New York State Child Victims Act?
In 2019, the New York State Senate Passed Bill S2440 which effectively eliminated the Statute of Limitations for childhood sexual abuse survivors, allowing them to bring lawsuits which would otherwise have been time-barred during a "look back window" which would expire on August 14, 2020.
The bill was signed into law by Governor Cuomo in February of 2019.
What if I was unable to file a lawsuit so far?
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruption in Civil Courts. These included court closures, filing delays, mandated quarantines, and even the government-ordered cessation of all but essential business activity - this affected depositions, service of papers and many other necessary aspects of our system of civil law. Because of this, hundreds (if not thousands) victims of childhood sexual abuse were prevented from meeting with their lawyers, obtaining documents and records, and preparing their cases for filing by the original deadline.
In light of this, yesterday, on August 3, 2020, the Governor signed legislation extending the Child Victims Act "look back" window to August 14, 2021.
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Until when can a Person File a Claim under the Child Victims Act?
The new deadline to file Child Victims Act cases August 14, 2021, at which point, a Statute of Limitations is re-implemented. Once the window closes, victims who were abused as minors will have until age 55 to bring such lawsuits.
While this may seem like a long time, many of these cases are decades old and ample time is required to investigate them, track down agency information, surviving witnesses, record keepers, and old documents etc., so it is important to act sooner rather than later if you think you might have a claim.
So many times, I have heard the same thing from our clients: that they did not seek justice in the past because “it was something you just didn’t talk about back then.”
Part of the impetus behind New York’s passing of the Child Victims Act was to reflect the cultural shift that once protected and even concealed these abusers from justice, whether in schools, religious institutions, foster homes, or many other institutions which may have enabled them.
Will Identities of Childhood Sex Abuse Victims be made Public?
Protecting the identity of the victims in these cases can be critically important because the subject matter is extremely personal, delicate and potentially embarrassing if disclosure is made public. Even decades after the abuse, many victims haven’t told their families (or even their significant others) about the atrocities they endured, choosing instead to grit their teeth and bottle up their memories.
I have had success in allowing my clients to proceed under pseudonyms in several cases across several courts. I can't promise that a court will grant a certain request, as each case is different, but I can assure you that the courts have been receptive to the private and sensitive nature of these cases and take these applications very seriously.
As a former Law Enforcement Officer, I have worked with many victims of child abuse and neglect, and have seen firsthand the effects they have on our most vulnerable and important resource – our children. It is my personal mission to relentlessly pursue justice for my clients no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.
As the Child Victims Act brings new changes to New York State law, and given the gravity of these cases, it is important to consult an attorney who is acquainted with the unique court proceedings and filings that these cases require, in addition to honed investigation skills developed through law enforcement experience.
Time is Limited:
The Child Victims Act is an unusual act of law, and it is unknown whether such an opportunity to seek justice will ever return. If you or a loved one think you may have a claim, call 914-500-7990 now to learn your rights and begin investigating your possible claim.
I can also be emailed at SameerNath.Esq@gmail.com for more information.