The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) last week thanked the New York State Legislature for its passage of the Child Victims Act, which will provide young victims of sexual abuse with additional time to bring civil action against the perpetrators and seek criminal charges. The bill, which overwhelmingly passed the Assembly 130-3, and was unanimously approved by the Senate, is expected to be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Specifically, the Child Victims Act will extend the criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse by five years, meaning that victims can pursue felony criminal charges until the age of 28. In addition, it will lengthen the civil statute of limitations so that victims have until the age of 55 to initiate legal action against the perpetrators. The bill will also institute a one-year period during which the statute of limitations in civil cases would be stayed, thereby enabling victims who were abused prior to this new law to bring legal action against their offenders. Further, the bill will do away with the requirement that a “notice of claim” be filed against public institutions whose negligence allowed the abuse to take place.
The following is the National Council of Young Israel’s statement:
“The National Council of Young Israel thanks the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo for their laudable efforts to make the Child Victims Act a reality. For far too long, there have been numerous impediments that have made it difficult for young victims of sexual abuse in New York to seek redress for the unspeakable acts that were perpetrated against them. With the recent passage of the Child Victims Act, children who are tragically subjected to heinous acts of abuse by adults will thankfully have additional legal means through which they can turn the tables on their abusers.
“Sadly, no faith or ethnic community is immune to the odious crime of child sexual abuse, and it is incumbent on communal leaders to speak out vociferously about the dangers that exist and provide the necessary support to the victims in their time of need. As victims of child sexual abuse, including those in the Jewish community, struggle with the stigma that they may feel, it is critical that they recognize that there are people to whom they can turn for much-needed assistance.
“According to Rabbi Zvi Gluck, a Young Israel member who is the director of Amudim, which is an organization that helps abuse victims in the Jewish community, only 37 percent of their clients have been able to pursue criminal charges against their abusers to date. However, with passage of the Child Victims Act, he anticipates that number will increase significantly to 60 percent by virtue of the bill’s extension of the statute of limitations, thereby giving 52 percent more clients closure, which will help immensely with the victims’ ongoing efforts to recover from their horrific ordeals.
“The days of child sexual predators in New York being able to hide behind legal and procedural roadblocks are over. With the enactment of the Child Victims Act, those individuals who engage in the despicable act of preying on children will be more susceptible to the long arm of the law, and victims will have a clearer legal path through which they can ensure that the perpetrators face the consequences for their detestable crimes.”