Governor Andrew Cuomo talked about the Child Victims Act during his ‘State of the State’ address Tuesday in Albany. He wants to give victims of child sexual abuse more time to seek justice and wants the legislature to pass the bill in this legislative session.
“We can’t go backward, this provision would only go forward,” said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn.
After fighting for years for the Child Victims Act to pass, victims, advocates and some lawmakers may see it happen soon.
“It will give victims more time now if they have been abused to bring their cases to light,” said Flynn.
The bill, which has failed to pass the New York State Senate for years, would give victims until age 28 to file criminal charges against their abuser.
“Depending on how the law is written here, like I said before, it give us 5 more years to go back and prosecute a crime,” said Flynn.
On the civil side, the law would give victims up until they turn 50 years old to file a lawsuit.
“I have many clients that are over 50 years old and I think that’s an arbitrary age and we’re hoping they change that and not have any such arbitrary age,” said Barry Covert, who represents several sexual abuse victims in Buffalo.
Right now victims only have until they’re 23 to file both civil and criminal charges.
Another part of the bill under debate — the one year window. It would give victims a year to file a civil lawsuit, no matter how long ago it happened. Some legislators say that could hurt several agencies.
“I don’t want to bankrupt the school district. I don’t want to bankrupt the Catholic Church quite frankly. I think the Catholic Church still brings a lot more good than bad, but I think we have to address for victims, give them their day in court,” said State Senator Rob Ortt.
Flynn says it hasn’t been easy but this bill comes down to one thing — the victims.
“That’s been the most frustrating aspect of this is that there are so many victims who are not getting justice,” said Flynn.
There’s still debate over the exact provisions of the Child Victims Act, but both sides of the aisle in Albany believe it can pass during this legislative session.