On Monday, the New York State Legislature passed the Child Victims Act, and Governor Cuomo is expected to sign it into law. The bill expands the time criminal charges may be brought against an accused perpetrator until the victim reaches age 28, and allows civil suits to commence until the accuser’s 55th birthday. It also creates an 18-month window during which no civil claim will be deemed untimely under any statute of limitations.
Agudath Israel has long emphasized the importance of taking steps to protect our precious children and helping prevent sexual abuse. We have, moreover, supported measures expanding the statute of limitations for both civil and criminal actions. However, we opposed aspects of the Child Victims Act, out of concern that the unprecedented ability to revive decades-old claims in civil suits could jeopardize the ongoing viability of schools, houses of worship that sponsor youth programs, summer camps and other institutions that are the very lifeblood of communities like ours. That concern remains.
Above all, though, we are keenly and painfully aware of the terrible toll taken by child sexual abuse. Our hearts go out to each and every victim of such crimes. We hope and pray that the Almighty grant them healing and serenity, just as we must redouble our efforts to help eradicate this terrible scourge.