Child Victims Act gets 1-year extension

ALBANY — The Child Victims Act received a second extension, bringing the filing deadline for child sexual abuse cases past the statute of limitations to Aug. 14, 2021.

Championed for years by New Baltimore activist and attorney Gary Greenberg, who is a survivor of child sexual abuse, the law initially opened a one-year window of opportunity for claimants of child sexual abuse to bring their case to civil court, regardless of the statute of limitations and when the alleged abuse took place.

The law originally went into effect Aug. 15, 2019, and allowed civil cases alleging child sexual abuse to be brought against individuals or institutions through Aug. 14, 2020. But the COVID-19 outbreak in March shut down courts and limited the ability of legal procedures to be carried out, so in May, Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the look-back window by five months, to Jan. 14, 2021.

The state Legislature on May 27 voted to extend the filing date a second time, to Aug. 14, 2021.

“Due to the pandemic and the coronavirus, they had closed the courts and a lot of victims couldn’t file their cases and it has been a period of isolation, so it was felt that it was best to extend the year and give victims more time,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg estimated there are about 2,000 cases brought to court through the Child Victims Act, but he believes there are many more out there.

“There are more coming and as more people come forward, other victims will come forward,” he said. “With the period that we are in, with the coronavirus, that was limiting victims’ ability to find lawyers to take their case, the courts were closed down and a lot of law offices were closed down, so it created a situation. The extension will give people more time to find a lawyer and hopefully we will get the word out that it has been extended.”

The state Senate approved the extension unanimously by a vote of 60-0, and the Assembly passed it by a 134-10 vote.

Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, voted for the extension.

“I am very happy the Child Victims Act has been extended for another year, because the uncontrollable circumstances caused by this pandemic shouldn’t stop anybody from seeking justice,” Tague said. “My greatest hope is that as the actions of more bad actors are brought to light, we create a be...

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