New York passes Child Victims Act, extending statute of limitations for sex crimes

The Child Victims Act was co-sponsored by state Sen. Brad Hoylman, seen here in 2017.
The Child Victims Act was co-sponsored by state Sen. Brad Hoylman, seen here in 2017. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

New York lawmakers passed the Child Victims Act on Monday, the latest in a string of bills being rapidly pushed through the Legislature now that Democrats hold a majority in both the Assembly and Senate.

Championed by State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Assemb. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), the Child Victims Act extends the state’s existing statutes of limitation for prosecuting crimes related to child sex abuse and for filing lawsuits against individuals as well as public and private institutions. It also gives victims who are outside of the current statute of limitations one year to take civil action against their alleged abuser.

"For years, survivors of child sexual abuse have looked to Albany for justice and for years, their pleas have gone unanswered," Hoylman said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. "We can never right the wrongs of past abuse. But we can give you the opportunity to seek redress against your abusers and the institutions who harbored them."

Under the act, the statute of limitations for prosecuting child sex abuse crimes will end at 28 years old instead of 23, and the individual will have until age 55 to take civil action.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports the legislation and is expected to sign it into law. Earlier Monday, he met with advocates and survivors.

"[With the] Child Victims Act, yes there’s going to be court cases, and a lookback and a window, et cetera. But to me that’s all a means to the end," Cuomo told the group. "The end was do justice, acknowledge this . . . And it has taken us a number of years to get here, but we got here because of you and your tenacity."

Similar to other recently approved legislation — the Reproductive Health Act and DREAM Act among them — the Child Victims Act languished in Albany for years before it was passed. While the act had previously passed in the Assembly, it was held up by a Republican-controlled Senate.