Child Victims Act extends statute, puts onus on institutions
With the passage of the Child Victims Act in New York, attorneys forecast a busy year as they take on cases that can now see legal action.
The new law signed this month by Gov. Andrew Cuomo allows individuals who allege they were victims of sexual assault as youths to have more time to press charges against their accuser.
The legislation ensures those who abuse children are held accountable criminally and civilly and that survivors of childhood sexual abuse have a path to justice, Cuomo said.
Some attorneys have long clamored on behalf of those alleging they are victims to see legislation that lengthens the statute of limitations.
Attorneys Steven Cohen and William Lorenz Jr. of HoganWillig PLLC and Barry Covert of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria LLP said they’ve fielded many calls since the legislation was first discussed in New York about 10 years. In those calls, people from a number institutions and not just the Catholic church have alleged abuse.
“We expect it is only going to increase,” Lorenz said.
Cohen and Covert each said they’ve kept a list of people hopeful such legislation would be passed.
Having it passed has already been “therapeutic” to some degree for many people who he said have been ostracized, called liars and told to live with it personally, Cohen said.
“They now feel vindicated because they see that there are so many similarly situated people,” he said.
Covert agreed and said people felt as though they were “being hushed.”
“They did the right thing here,” said Covert, partner at Lipsitz Green. “What we’re going to see now is there are older cases. The non-Catholic church cases are just as numerous.”