Not in Westchester?
July 15, 2020


Child Victims Act cases have been filed since Aug. 14.
Child Victims Act cases have been filed since Aug. 14. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Civil Lawsuits Filed Locally Under New 'Child Victims Act'

During the first month of the Child Victims Act, a total of 13 claims of alleged abuse have been filed in Westchester County Supreme Court.

Statewide, the number of new civil cases is 639 through Monday, Sept. 9, according to Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state Unified Court System.

On Aug. 14, New York state opened up a one-year, one-time-only period where victims can file claims against their abusers and the institutions that harbored them, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place. Victims can seek monetary compensation, but not criminal charges.

A total of 152 claims have been filed in New York City's five boroughs, 49 cases have been filed on Long Island, 2 in Rockland County and 1 in Orange County. 

Victims spent years lobbying Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers to open up a so-called "look-back window," arguing that the state's statute of limitations for child sex crimes was unnecessarily restrictive and didn't account for those who take years to process the abuse they suffered.

State courts are expecting a barrage of more cases. 

Law firms across the state and country have said they plan to file numerous lawsuits against religious institutions, scout troops, schools, hospitals and other public entities and a variety of individuals who committed abuse or played some sort of role in it. Law firms are encouraging victims to come forward who were believe they were abused as a child, but were previously barred by the statute of limitations. Do a Google search for "Child Victims Act" and advertisements for law firms will pop up.

The new law also extended the state's statute of limitations for criminal child sexual abuse cases, which had been among the shortest in the nation. Now, prosecutors have until a child sex abuse victim turns 28 to seek a felony indictment, up from the previous age of 23.

For civil cases, the statute of limitations for is until the victim turns 55. That's aside from the one-year, look-back window, in which there is no civil statute of limitations -- meaning for the next year, people over 55 can file claims for alleged child abuse decades ago.

For more details on the Child Victims Act, click here.