New York, NY(Law Firm Newswire) July 10, 2017 – The New York State Senate once again decided against taking up a bill designed to change child sex abuse laws before the end of the annual legislative session on June 21.
The Child Victims Act would allow child sex abuse survivors to file felony criminal lawsuits until their 28th birthdays and civil cases until they turn 50. Under current laws, most victims can only file such criminal or civil complaints against an alleged abuser until they are 23 years old.
“This legislation needs to be treated very carefully,” said Peter Brill, a New York criminal defense attorney with Brill Legal Group. “While the Child Victims Act is useful for victims, its passage could lead to an onslaught of lawsuits. Some cases may be valid, but others could put innocent individuals at risk of false child sex abuse complaints that could damage their reputation and future.”
The bill also includes a one-year window in which old child sex abuse cases can be revived even though the statute of limitations has expired. In addition, public and private institutions would be treated the same under the act. Currently, individuals who have suffered sexual abuse in schools and other public areas must file an intent to sue within 90 days of the incident.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced his own Child Victims Act bill that mirrored the one approved by the state Assembly in early June with strong Republican support. However, the legislation did not get a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate at the end of its session. Similar versions of the measure have failed to pass through both houses for years.
Advocates are disappointed that the bill was not passed. Supporters of the Child Victims Act have pushed for its approval to provide child abuse survivors with a way to seek justice after they have grown older.
Some Senate Republicans are concerned about the bill providing child sex abuse victims a one-year period to revive their old cases, regardless of the victim’s current age and when the abuse occurred. The Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church have opposed the Child Victims Act. The church argued that it would give rise to frivolous and expensive lawsuits.
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