Child Victims Act

In Jan. 2019, the New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act (CVA). This act serves to amend the state’s previous laws regarding child abuse. The primary revisions include:

  • Extending New York’s statute of limitations for child abuse
  • Criminal charges for child sex abuse can be filed until a victim turns 28 for felony cases, a five-year increase from the previous 23 years of age.
  • Civil action can be taken against abusers and enabling institutions until the victim turns 55. The previous cap on a victim’s age was also 23 years old.
  • The opening of a one-year look-back period that allows a victim of any age to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser.***Update: due to changes in court activity during the COVID-19 NY Pause, Governor Cuomo announced the state will extend the window for victims to file otherwise time-barred cases under the Child Victims Act for an additional five months until January 14, 2021. That window to file an expired or time-barred case was set to close August 14, 2020.

When the CVA was signed into law Feb. 14, 2019, the extended statute of limitations took immediate effect. On Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, the one-year look-back window of the CVA went into effect. In its first day alone, over 400 lawsuits were filed in the State’s civil courts. Many of the lawsuits filed are against large organizations, institutions and schools including the Archdiocese of New York and the Boy Scouts of America.

According to the New York Unified Court System, the State Courts took measures to prepare for the flood of lawsuits expected to be filed under the CVA. One such measure was the assignment of 45 judges statewide to exclusively handle CVA cases.

The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office takes cases of child abuse seriously. The Special Prosecutions Division Child Abuse Bureau handles investigations and prosecutions of crimes against children and is committed to obtaining justice for the victims and preventing future offenses.

According to Second Deputy District Attorney Fredric Green, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Division, the previous limitations on the prosecution of child abuse cases “stopped access to justice for children and for young people. So for this law to open up a period, for people who otherwise, had their claims barred from seeking any kind of justice in the justice system, is really an amazing aspect of this law."

Chief Green went on to say, “As for the work we do, we will always give thoughtful careful analysis to any case that is brought to our attention, first to analyze if the case is viable under the statute of limitations, and then to assess the facts and the law available to potentially sustain our legal burden. The older a case is, the more difficult those decisions will be. And we will continue to foster our open communications with the Archdiocese, and to continue to receive whatever old cases they send for our review. Whenever we meet victims, we will offer referrals to whatever services they might be entitled to, including the services of our Victim's Justice Center and our Trauma Therapist.”

Statement from Westchester County District Attorney’s Office on the Passage of the Child Victims Act

Governor Cuomo signs the Child Victims Act into law


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