New York extends civil ‘look back’ for child sexual assault victims

ALBANY — New Yorkers who were sexually assaulted as children will have a little more time to take legal action against their alleged abusers.

Gov. Cuomo on Friday extended a “look back window” created as part of the Child Victims Act last year that allows survivors abused as kids, to file civil suits beyond the normal statute of limitations.

The one-year window, which was slated to expire in August, will be extended until Jan. 14 in response to the coronavirus crisis’ impact on the state court system, the governor said during a briefing Friday at the Murray Student Center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.

“Because of the reduction in court services we want to extend that window and we’ll extend it for an additional five months,” Cuomo said. “Because people need access to the courts to make their claim, because justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

Nonessential court filings have been frozen since March 22 as New York became the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. and the court system suspended most civil actions other than a limited number of time-sensitive matters such as temporary orders of protection.

Earlier this week, the New York Law Journal reported that the court system was preparing to allow new filings under the Child Victims Act in the coming weeks.

Lawmakers have been calling for a longer extension of the lookback window for months, predating the pandemic. They believe that more time is needed to allow survivors the chance to decide if they want to come forward and pursue a lawsuit.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman, a sponsor of the Child Victims Act along with Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, both Manhattan Democrats, applauded the five-month extension, but said more must be done to help victims.

“Survivors need the assurance that New York will stand with them, even after the pandemic ends," he said, noting that the current crisis has compounde...

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