As pandemic halts Child Victims Act filings, lawmakers rally for extension

Albany Times-Union

March 24, 2020

By Cayla Harris

As the COVID-19 pandemic has put all non-essential court filings on pause, lawmakers and activists are ramping up calls to extend the Child Victims Act’s “look-back” window that is set to expire this summer.

Last August, the Child Victims Act opened a one-year period for survivors of all ages to pursue previously time-barred claims against their alleged abusers – but, as some survivors have faced difficulty finding attorneys or coming to terms with their abuse, legislators have looked to extend the window another 12 months. Those calls are more pressing now, lawmakers and activists say, after the state court system on Sunday suspended most civil filings as the COVID-19 emergency has significantly reduced staff and operations.

Advocates hope to include an extension in the state’s annual budget package, due by April 1.

“This is an extraordinary time for New York state, and circumstances around the budget are unusual to say the least, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that adult survivors of child sexual abuse will be further harmed by our legal system if we don’t move to extend the window,” said state Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, a sponsor of both the Child Victims Act and the extension proposal.

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