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New York’s “Child Victims Act” Opens Doors for Sexual Abuse Survivors to Get Justice in Courts

HeadlineAug 14, 2019

Starting today, survivors of childhood sexual abuse in New York, who previously could not bring their perpetrators to court due to statutes of limitations, will now be able to do so, as the new Child Victims Act goes into effect. The new law allows prosecutors to bring criminal charges against alleged abusers until the accuser turns 28, while accusers can file a civil lawsuit until they reach the age of 55. In addition, the so-called lookback window will allow accusers of any age to bring charges against their alleged perpetrators — no matter how long ago the abuse occurred — for a period of one year, starting today. This is New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul speaking Tuesday.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul: “To the perpetrators, the child molesters, the child abusers, the child predators, who made individuals grow up as adults with the worst nightmares you can imagine, today your victims will be your worst nightmare, because, starting tomorrow, they will see you in court. And I don’t care if you’re hiding in a rectory somewhere, if you’re in a rocking chair in Florida. You will be found, and you will be brought to justice. It starts tomorrow here in New York.”

New York is the fifth state to apply the “lookback window.” Legal experts say major institutions that have faced sexual abuse scandals in recent years, including the Catholic Church in New York, are likely to face a litany of lawsuits.

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