Unique One-year Window for Child Sex Abuse Victims to Get Justice Opens This Week in NY

August 12 2019

They say justice delayed is justice denied, but a provision of a New York state law that goes into effect Wednesday will give child sexual abuse victims a chance to defy that conventional wisdom.

The Child Victims Act, signed into law on February 14, expands the ways that those who suffered sexual abuse as children can use the legal system to address the damage.

In particular, the law specifically said that six months after its passage, there would be a one-year period when any adult survivors of child sexual abuse could sue an abuser or a negligent institution, no matter how long ago the abuse took place.

That one-year “window of justice,” as Child USA CEO Marci Ann Hamilton called it, starts Wednesday.

The idea behind the law is that many victims of child sexual abuse keep it a secret for years, well beyond the previous statute of limitations, out of shame and fear. This law gives them a chance to “reclaim their dignity,” said Michael Polenberg of Safe Horizon, a victim assistance non-profit that worked to pass the law.

“For survivors who understand what has happened to them and know in their hearts what happened to them, they get to name that person in court,” he said.

The one-year reprieve could create new opportunities for lawsuits against people or institutions implicated in child sex abuse scandals, such as the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, or the estate of the late Jeffrey Epstein.








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