ALBANY – As the frantic pace continues in the State Assembly and Senate, the Child Victim’s Act will be voted on by the Legislature today.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the Act will help bring justice and closure to many people who were sexually assaulted as children.
The act has been opposed by the Catholic Church and The Boy Scouts of America.
Victims of child sexual abuse in New York will be able to seek civil awards against the abusers and institutions that harbored them regardless of how long ago the abuse took place.
The Legislature is prepared to pass the Act, which would relax the state’s rigid statute of limitations on abuse of children and create a one-year window to revive any claims regardless of how long ago it was.
During his State of the State address, Cuomo took aim at the Catholic Church, of which he is a member, for the recent rash of reported abuses by priests against children.
The Act would extend the state’s statute of limitations to allow for criminal charges against sexual abusers of children until the victims turn 28 for felony cases.
In addition, the Act would allow victims to seek civil action against abusers and institutions which may have harbored and covered up the abuse until they turn 55.
The Act also opens the one-year, one-time only, window to let all victims seek civil action no matter how long ago the abuse was.
Abuse victim advocates have said their toughest opposition to the Act is the Bishops of the Catholic Church, saying the Bishops argue that the Act would open the opportunity for people with little or no evidence to file questionable lawsuits.
Insurance experts have said the church abuse scandal has cost the church as much as $3 billion and that as many as 100,000 children are likely victims in America and more than 4,300 clergy may have been abusers.
Child advocates have also reported that the Boy Scouts of America have hired lobbyists to oppose the Act, trying to stem the rising tide of abuse lawsuits.
Cuomo has vowed to sign the Act as soon as it passes.