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Child Victims Act extension proposed

A Manhattan Democrat wants to give child sex abuse victims another year to file previously time-barred claims in court.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, recently introduced S.7082 to extend the statute of limitations for the state’s Child Victims Act, which was passed in 2019 and gave child sex abuse victims a one year period that ends Aug. 13, 2020, to file lawsuits regardless of when the abuse is alleged to have taken place.

Holyman said more than 1,300 cases had been filed statewide as of December on behalf of at least 1,700 child sex abuse victims.

“Extending the length of the revival window would provide more time to notify New Yorkers about the new law and allow more survivors to seek the justice that was denied them by New York’s formerly prohibitive civil statute of limitations,” Hoylman wrote in his legislative justification for S.7082. “Several states that have enacted legislation similar to the Child Victims Act have opted to provide a revival window of longer than one year — most recently New Jersey, which provided a two-year window that opened in December 2019.”

Litigation in sex abuse cases is the subject of other bills state lawmakers will review in this legislative session.

Hoylman also recently introduced the Adult Survivors Act in the state Senate in the fall that would give one year for victims of sexual abuse whose abuse happened when they were over the age of 18 to bring claims against their alleged abusers. The legislation is co-sponsored by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D-Bronx.

The legislation, S.6810, allows claims in sexual abuse claims where the statute of limitations has run out. Claims under the Adult Survivors Act would be given special trial preference and require the Chief Administrative Judge of the Office of Court Administration to develop rules so that cases brought under the Adult Victims Act are heard quickly.

In November, state Sen. James Gaughran, D-Northport, introduced S.6847 to create the Child Victim Foundation Fund and a supplemental child victim fee. Gaughran’s legislation would create a fund to help child sex abuse victims file and litigate their claims and give taxpayers an opportunity to donate to the fund.

Advocates are also asking for legislation that would create a state compensation fund for victims who advocates say haven’t filed lawsuits yet because abusers don’t have any financial ability to pay damages.

Gary Greenberg, founder of the Fighting for Children PAC, publicly asked for such a fund in the fall.

“Hundreds, if not thousands of victims are being turned away by attorneys because their cases involve perpetrators who are not fiscally worthwhile to prosecute,” Greenberg said. “This is not justice for all. … The legislature and governor must correct this. My recommendation is to create a victims fund with public and private funds for those who, under the current law, are not able to go to court.”

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