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New York Child Victims Act and the Impact of COVID-19

What is the New York Child Victims Act?

The New York Child Victims Act (CVA) is fairly new legislation that was signed into law in February of 2019. It has been a great help in increasing child sex abuse survivors' legal rights in New York state. The CVA allows survivors of abuse to file a lawsuit without notice of claim for sexual abuse and offenses committed against a minor. It extends the statute of limitations for criminal and civil cases of child sexual abuse.

While the CVA is good news for sex abuse survivors, COVID-19 has had an impact on filing claims as well as pending cases in court due to “New York State on Pause.” NYS on Pause temporarily closed non-essential businesses, which included the closing of courts and justice systems — and unfortunately, CVA cases fell under the non-essential category. Although New York courts are now open and running on limited capacity, including virtual court appearances, there are still some challenges ahead when it comes to cases involving the New York Child Victims Act.

Read on to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on CVA cases and how the extension of the lookback period by New York Governor Cuomo can help survivors file a claim against child sex abusers.

Why Was the Deadline Extended?

The New York Child Victims Act has a one-year lookback period, which means any survivor can file a claim against their abuser regardless of when the abuse happened or their age at the time of the abuse. The lookback period is a critical element of the CVA because many survivors suffer physical and emotional trauma from their experience, and often do not speak up or come to terms with their abuse until adulthood.

The lookback period gives adults who recognize that they have been sexually abused decades later the ability to file criminal and civil lawsuits against their abusers. The CVA also allows survivors to seek damages from institutions in which the abuse happened and offered protection of the abusers — for example, the Catholic Church or Boy Scouts of America.

After COVID-19 initiated New York on Pause, pending and new claims could not be filed due to court closings and the CVA falling under the non-essential umbrella. This prompted New York Governor Cuomo to extend the filing deadline for new child sex abuse cases under the CVA from August 14, 2020, to January 14, 2021.

Why Do Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Stay Silent?

Often, children who suffer sexual abuse carry the heavy burden and secrets of sexual abuse into adulthood. According to an article published in Psychology Today, many survivors of child sexual abuse do not speak up, even well into adulthood, because they are confused, in denial, and fearful of the consequences such as retaliation from the perpetrator. Survivors also tend to blame themselves for the sexual abuse or feel the need to protect the abuser.

Why Survivors Should Speak Up

As mentioned above, survivors of sexual abuse often have many misgivings about speaking out against their abusers. Speaking out against your abuser not only holds them accountable for their actions, but it can also stop them from sexually abusing others. While such a traumatic experience can be challenging to overcome, speaking out against your perpetrator can help you heal and bring you closure from the trauma and move forward with your life.

Are You a Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse in New York? We Can Help.

Child sexual abuse is one of the most traumatizing experiences anyone can endure. The emotional, physical, and psychological damage is irreversible. Survivors of child sexual abuse are often left confused and don’t know where to turn. If you or a loved one has suffered child sexual abuse, we are here to help you hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. You have the right to pursue legal action, but time is of the essence. The filing deadline, January 14, 2021, is fast approaching. The Zalkin Law Firm, P.C. is accepting inquiries from survivors to explore their legal options under the New York Child Victims Act.

Contact us today (800) 477-2989 to learn your rights.