New York courts will allow Child Victims Act filings ‘in the next few weeks’


May 7, 2020

By Cayla Harris

New claims have been frozen during pandemic

The state court system will make an exception to allow new filings under the Child Victims Act “in the next few weeks,” even as other non-essential filings remain frozen during the pandemic, a spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration said Thursday.

“We will not deny those litigants the ability to file,” the spokesman, Lucian Chalfen, said in an email.

The exception, first reported by the New York Law Journal, comes amid growing calls from survivors and advocates to extend the act’s one-year “look-back” period that is set to expire in August. The window has resulted in more than 1,700 lawsuits filed by individuals who had previously been time-barred from lodging claims against their alleged sexual abusers. But court filings were paused in March as the coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down the state court system.

It is unclear whether alleged survivors will be able to make up for lost filing time during the pandemic; Chalfen said any extension of the window would require executive or legislative action. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued an executive order in March suspending statutes of limitations during the state of emergency, but there is uncertainty among lawyers and legal experts as to whether that moratorium also applies to the Child Victims Act’s one-year window.

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