NY Legislature votes to extend Child Victims Act deadline

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York state Senate and Assembly on Wednesday voted to extend the deadline for residents who were sexually abused as children to file legal claims, citing the upheaval caused by the coronavirus.

The original deadline for those making claims under the Child Victims Act was August 14th; the legislation would extend it a year, to the same date in 2021.

The 2019 act lifted statute of limitations even for allegations that were decades old, for a filing period of one year.

But with the shutdown and disruption caused by the virus, advocates and survivors had been pressing for an extension.

The legislation now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who earlier this month had extended the deadline by five months, to January. A spokesman said it would be reviewed.

Advocates hailed the move.

“Justice has been fortified,” said Kathryn Robb, CHILD USAdvocacy’s executive director, in a statement, calling the move “a strong stand against child sexual abuse.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted court fillings, prevented survivors from meeting with their lawyers, and delayed the discovery process,” said Michael Polenberg, vice president of government affairs at Safe Horizon, in a statement. The vote “reinforces the commitment of the original Child Victims Act in creating broader pathways to justice for survivors.”

The state Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 60-0, and the Assembly by a vote of 135-9.