Long-Awaited Reform to Provide Healing, Justice and Accountability
(New York) - Child sexual abuse survivors in New York will have a new chance at justice and healing beginning Wednesday, August 14, when New York’s one-year window for survivors to take legal action against their perpetrators and the institutions that protected them takes effect.
“This is a new day for survivors and a real chance at healing,” said attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates, who represents hundreds of survivors who were sexually abused as children in New York. “These courageous survivors are holding perpetrators and powerful institutions accountable. They’re taking back power that was stolen from them as children.”
The one-year window is included in the state’s Child Victims Act
(CVA), which was signed into law in February 2019. The window gives survivors of child sexual abuse one year to bring lawsuits in cases that were previously barred by the statute of limitations, no matter when the abuse occurred. The CVA also reformed the statute of limitations in New York to give sexual abuse survivors until age 55 (instead of age 23) to bring civil lawsuits against abusers and institutions; this provision is separate from the one-year window, for which there is no statute of limitations.
“None of this is possible without the courage and efforts of survivors,” Anderson said.
There should be no statute of limitations for child sexual abuse but New York’s historic CVA is a step in the right direction. It can take decades for child sexual abuse survivors to process what happened to them and come forward. By taking legal action, survivors begin to heal and take back power, in addition to seeking compensation. They can begin to have a better life.
Also, through the litigation process, abusers and powerful institutions that enabled and protected them are forced to disclose perpetrator names, information and secret documents showing histories of abuse and cover-up. We’ve seen this happen in other states where legislation similar to New York’s CVA was enacted and windows for lawsuits were opened, such as Minnesota, Delaware, California and Hawaii. This leads to more and long-overdue institutional transparency. The process provides the public with information about dangerous predators previously kept secret.
The new law helps protect kids. In the end, that’s the most important thing.