New York State lawmakers have approved a bill that would extend the statute of limitation on child molestation cases. The Child Victims Act would give abuse victims more time to sue and pursue criminal charges. A revision local advocates say is long overdue.
“Because our statute of of limitations has been severely restricted, really restricted to such an extent that very few survivors of child sexual abuse have been able to pursue that form of justice,” said the Executive Director at Bivona Child Advocacy Center Deb Rosen. “Just a tremendously positive thing in the community and really represents an avenue to justice that has not been available to new yorkers up until this time.”
Under the new act, victims can file criminal charges up to the age of 28 and file civil suit up the age of 55. Whereas in current law the age limit is 23 in both instances.
“Sometimes people don’t want to come forward at that moment for various different reasons,” said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley.
Doorley praises the new bill and hopes more people will now come forward under the extended statute of limitations. Especially under the look back window clause, which allows expired cases that occured at any moment in time to come forward.
“We’ll treat them like any other case where we look at the quality and the quantity of the evidence make a decision whether or not it’s feasible to go forward with the prosecution,” said Doorley.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.
The catholic church supports the legislation after lawmakers agreed the bill will apply equally to public and private institutions.
Statement from New York State Bishops :
“We pray that passage of the Child Victims Act brings some measure of healing to all survivors by offering them a path of recourse and reconciliation. The legislation now recognizes that child sexual abuse is an evil not just limited to one institution, but a tragic societal ill that must be addressed in every place where it exists.”