We are currently in the grips of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis has affected many industries nationwide, especially those in New York. As courts and law offices are ordered to close their doors due to the Coronavirus, child sex abuse advocates hope lawmakers think about them, too.
The Child Victims Act, or CVA, was signed into law in 2019 to extend the statute of limitations for future acts of child sexual abuse so that victims have until the age of 55 to bring a civil suit. The CVA also gave older victims outside that statute of limitations one year to file a civil lawsuit. This lookback window opened on August 14, 2019 and is currently set to expire on August 14, 2020. However, the COVID-19 crisis has closed state courts and stalled any non-essential cases, effectively curtailing the window to seven months and slamming the doors to justice on survivors who have not yet taken action.
The Need to Extend the Lookback Window
The Child Victims Act and its lookback window were designed to allow survivors of abuse to seek justice. However, the COVID-19 crisis has substantially disrupted this. It is not fair to let an unforeseen global pandemic impact the ability of survivors to hold their abusers accountable. An extension on the lookback window of the CVA would ensure that survivors are given the appropriate amount of time to decide how they would like to proceed on their own terms.
Lookback windows are not unique; states across the country have instituted their own version and many of these span multiple years. For example, California has a three-year window and both New Jersey and North Carolina have two-year windows. Longer windows grant more survivors the ability to learn about their new rights and decide whether they want to file a lawsuit.
There is already a bill in the state Senate and Assembly that would extend the New York window to file by an additional year. State lawmakers have a lot on their minds right now, but child sex abuse advocates hope lawmakers think about them, too.
If you or a loved one were a victim of child sexual abuse, you need to know how the Child Victims Act can help you get the justice you deserve. For more information or to better understand how this law can help you, please call our professional help center at 212-385-4410.