Albany, NY Yesterday, January 28, 2019, the New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Senator Brad Hoylman for victims of child sex abuse to pursue criminal and civil charges against their abusers.
The Child Victims Act, or A02683/S02440, extends the statutes of limitations for criminal cases, allowing them to be commenced until the victim turns 28 years of age for felonies and 23 years of age for misdemeanors. Under the current law, cases for the most serious sex offenses can be commenced at any time. The bill would also push back the statute of limitations to permit civil actions to be brought until the victim turns 55 years of age. Further, the measure creates a one-year window for adult survivors to commence civil cases that, under current law, are barred because the statute of limitations has expired.
The Child Victims Act will also treat public and private institutions the same in these proceedings, removing the notice of claim requirement for public institution. This measure would hold these institutions accountable for concealed evidence pertaining to sex crime cases.
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte went before the Assembly yesterday recounting her own experiences with child sex abuse when she was 10 years old. She vividly explained how dark and alone victims often feel when they are abused.
"Childhood sexual abuse is an indescribably traumatizing experience that can take a lifetime to come to terms with, said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. In many cases, it can take many years for a survivor to be ready to confront their abuser. While we cannot erase what happened, we can give power to victims and help them move forward with their lives without letting the perpetrators of these unthinkable crimes off the hook.
When a child is violated and sexually abused, often they don't know how to articulate the harm they experienced. They hope it goes away," continues Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. "But it never does. As a victim of child sexual abuse at the age of 10, I was afraid for a long time to come forward for risk of being blamed for my own trauma. As a Haitian child, my biggest fear was that nothing would be done about it."
Child sex abuse is rampant in our country. There are almost 90,000 cases of child sex abuse reported each year. An estimated 25% of girls and 16% of boys experience sexual abuse before they turn 18 years old.1Â Individuals who were sexually abused at an early age usually experience long lasting mental and emotional distress. According to the Veteran's Administration National Center for PTSD, psychological issues that present themselves later on in life often include anxiety, poor self-esteem, dysfunctional relationships, eating disorders, and PTSD.2Â
Abuse of any kind against a child is the most shameful, unforgivable crime, says Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte. It should be up to the victims who were wrongfully robbed of their innocence to decide how and when to tell their stories and pursue justice against their abusers. With the Child Victims Act set to become law, were finally righting a terrible wrong. I am proud to vote with conviction for the Child Victims Act.
If you, or anyone you know, has been a victim of sexual abuse, please call National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1 (800) 656-4673. Callers will receive confidential support from a trained staff member and referrals for long term care in their area. Victims of sexual abuse should never feel alone.
Video: Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte speaks in support of the Child Victims Act and shares her personal story of child sex abuse: https://youtu.be/WFezgM2hCuA
2) American Nurse Today - Long Term Health Outcomes of Childhood Sexual Abuse