Judge upholds Child Victims Act

Hudson Valley 360

May 20, 2020

By Melanie Lekocevic

Rockville Centre – The Child Victims Act fended off a challenge claiming the law is unconstitutional.

The legislation, championed by New Baltimore resident and state Senate candidate Gary Greenberg, creates a “look-back” window allowing claimants charging sexual abuse that occurred past the standard statute of limitations to take their case to civil court for a one-year period from the date the legislation was signed into law.

The law went into effect Aug. 15, 2019, and initially allowed civil cases alleging child sexual abuse to be brought against institutions through Aug. 14, 2020, regardless of when the abuse is claimed to have taken place. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the court system coming to a near standstill in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the “look-back window” by five months, to Jan. 14, 2021.

A case was dismissed last Wednesday by State Supreme Court Judge Steven M. Jaeger, denying a motion by the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre in Long Island to dismiss 44 lawsuits against the diocese. The motion claimed the law was unconstitutional because it violated the diocese’s right to due process.

“There had been claims filed by the diocese under the Child Victims Act and they objected to the claims and made a motion to have them dismissed based on the claim that the Child Victims Act was unconstitutional, that you can’t go back and bring lawsuits when the statute of limitations has passed,” Greenberg said. “They said the Legislature couldn’t pass the Child Victims Act and victims couldn’t sue the diocese under the look-back window.”

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