Child Victim Act: Important Ramifications of the New York State Law


The Child Victim Act is a form of legislation in New York State intended to protect victims of childhood sexual harassment and abuse. Its passage has drastically changed the state’s stringent statute of limitations for cases involving sexual harassment and abuse. The new law is geared towards rectifying the fact that most victims of childhood sexual abuse had forfeited their legal right to redress by not filing a lawsuit regarding their abuse after the set timeframe (statute of limitations) expired.

The previous law, according to Powers & Santola, was the most stringent across the country and required the alleged survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file a civil suit before they hit 23 years. The Child Victim Act was debated and passed with each senator voting in favor of the Bill and passed with 130-3 majority in the Assembly.

According to this Child Victim Act, the alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse can file civil lawsuits against their abusers until their 55th birthday. Besides, the Act presents an open 12-months window to revive all old lawsuits that were ignored because the statute of limitations had expired.

The long-awaited justice

The Child Victims Act Bill was introduced by the New York Legislature 13 years ago. However, it has been facing tough opposition, particularly from the Republican-controlled state senate. The overall support for the Child Victims Act Bill and its public awareness has been increasing gradually since the introduction of the measure. According to a Quinnipiac Poll in February 2018, 90 percent of voters in New York supported the Bill.

Finally, during the November 2018 elections, the Democrats took control of two legislative houses and the passage of the Child Victim Act topped their priorities of the proposed legislation. Besides, Republicans joined the initiative too, and at last, the Bill was signed into law recently. Generally, the entire initiative has garnered a significant level of attention over the last ten years and for a good reason: there is a good chance there will be significant ramifications for a higher number of organizations associated with child care in New York State.

What does the Child Victims Act mean for different institutions?

You’re probably wondering how the Child Victims Act is likely to affect your institution. All civic, educational, or religious institution that cares for kids will be subject to the Child Victims Act. Thus, a significant number of individuals is likely to come forward, recognizing that now they have public and legislative support. Besides, these people are now sure they will not be faced with instant dismissal of their allegations and claims based upon the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Though some of the wrongdoers may have died many years ago or already retired, their employers are left to answer to their abusive actions. These employers, majorly institutions, will be held responsible for turning a blind to the childhood victims of sexual abuse while under their care and being negligent in retaining and supervising individuals who abused children sexually.

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