Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 at 1:14 am
On February 14, 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act as part of his Justice Agenda. It allows those who were sexually abused as children to pursue legal action despite when the abuse occurred and whether the statute of limitations expired. This law provides victims the opportunity to hold their abuser accountable and recover the financial compensation they deserve for their suffering.
Under the Child Victims Act, survivors and families of sexual abuse can pursue civil and criminal charges for the abuse they endured, even if it happened decades ago. Under normal circumstances, the state’s statute of limitations only allows the filing of a civil or criminal lawsuit until the victim turns 23 years old. However, the passage of this Act provides the following:
- Allows survivors to file a civil lawsuit until they turn 55 years old and a criminal lawsuit until they reach the age of 28;
- Provides a look-back window to pursue legal action despite the statute of limitations having lapsed;
- Increases the amount of time to seek criminal charges;
- Eliminates the requirement to file a notice of claim if the victim was a minor;
- Authorizes the Office of Court Administration to communicate these regulations for prompt decisions regarding revived civil and criminal actions.
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Child Victims Act Look-Back Window
Under the original legislation, the Child Victims Act provided a look-back window so victims could file their claims until August 14, 2020. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the country and putting legal cases on hold, Governor Cuomo decided to extend the look-back window until January 14, 2021. This gave child sex abuse survivors an additional five months to file their lawsuits.
The decision was the result of most businesses, including the court system, closing to prevent the spread of the virus. With a decrease in legal services, individuals who suffered from abuse when they were younger lost months of precious time to prepare their cases. Cuomo didn’t want them to encounter roadblocks while bringing their abusers to justice.
Another Extension to the Previous Look-Back Window
As of July 20, 2020, New York confirmed a statewide total of 407,326 positive cases of coronavirus, with a total of 25,056 deaths. Due to the consistent increase in numbers since the pandemic first started, Governor Cuomo signed another bill giving child sex abuse survivors until August 14, 2021, to file their lawsuits. Lawmakers believed this was a necessary move given the impact of the virus on the legal system. Most courthouses put a hold on cases already filed and weren’t accepting new ones.
With another extension, survivors and their families could breathe a sigh of relief, knowing they wouldn’t run out of time. This was especially good news for individuals who couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer at the time. A lot of people lost their jobs and were struggling with the unemployment website. At the time Cuomo approved the new deadline, New York unemployment claims increased to 1.1 million, and many people who previously applied for benefits still hadn’t seen a check.
New York Dioceses at the Center of Many Claims
One of the most publicized lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act was centered around the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Since 2019, they have received over 200 lawsuits with allegations of sexual abuse by multiple clergy members. Due to the financial burden of litigating various cases at once, they made the decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2020.
This is currently the largest Roman Catholic diocese in New York to declare bankruptcy since the Child Victims Act passed. The decision to pursue bankruptcy was made to determine the amount of insurance coverage and assets available to compensate those who filed lawsuits. Although most cases are still pending under the Act, the diocese set up their own independent compensation program, where over 350 survivors received a total of $62 million in compensation.
The Albany Roman Catholic Diocese is also under fire for allegations of sexual abuse by a former priest. Reverend Cabell B. Marbury worked for 50 years at Cardinal McCloskey Memorial High School and Bishop Maginn High School in Albany, New York. Even after retiring in 2009, he continued to volunteer as a chaplain and school board member.
Marbury was named in various claims beginning in 1993, but the cases never went anywhere. Since the passage of the Child Victims Act, he’s been named in multiple lawsuits by victims who claimed he sexually abused them during his career. Although Marbury died in 2014, the Diocesan Review Board hired an independent investigator in February 2020 to look into all past and new allegations and decided to add him to the diocese’s official sex offenders list.
Hach & Rose, LLP Will Help You in Your Fight for Justice
Our New York personal injury attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience representing victims of child sex abuse. We have the experience, resources, and knowledge to hold abusers accountable for their actions. You’ve suffered enough and deserve the opportunity to put this traumatic experience behind you. You can depend on us to remain by your side and recover the maximum financial compensation you need to move forward with your life.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have a dedicated legal team that will work diligently to reach a favorable outcome in your case. You won’t be alone in this fight for justice. We’ll be here to provide you with support and guidance. Our New York personal injury attorneys are available 24/7. You can speak to us whenever you need us the most. We’ll be sure to walk you through the legal process so you know what to expect and keep you updated on the progress of your case.
We will work to hold the abuser responsible for the harm they caused. If you want to find out more about our legal services or how we can help you file a lawsuit under the Child Victims Act, call us today at 646-685-8045. We’ll be happy to meet with you for a free consultation.