The Child Victims Act was passed by both houses of the New York State legislature Jan. 28 and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign it into law. The legislation prospectively extends both the civil and criminal statutes of limitations for claims of child sexual abuse; a survivor can now bring a civil claim until age 55 and criminal charges can be sought until the survivor is 28. The legislation also opens a one-year “look-back” window during which civil claims of abuse previously beyond the statute of limitations may be brought. The bishops of New York State released the statement below following the passage of the Child Victims Act:
“We pray that the passage of the Child Victims Act brings some measure of healing to all survivors by offering them a path of recourse and reconciliation. The legislation now recognizes that child sexual abuse is an evil not just limited to one institution, but a tragic societal ill that must be addressed in every place where it exists.
Sadly, we in the Church know all too well the devastating toll of abuse on survivors, their families, and the extended community. Every Catholic diocese in New York has taken important steps to support survivors of child sexual abuse, including the implementation of reconciliation and compensation programs. We are proud that these pioneering programs have not only helped well more than a thousand survivors of clergy abuse in New York, but have also become a model for how to help survivors in other states and in other institutions.
Now, we hope that this same type of survivor-centered approach, that puts the emphasis on healing, is available to all survivors, regardless of when the abuse occurred, or who their abuser was — whether it was a priest, a coach, a teacher, a doctor, or, as is all too common, a family member. We have long called for strengthening the Child Victims Act and will continue to advocate for the elimination of the criminal statute of limitations, compensations programs for those who prefer it to litigation, and mandatory safe environment training for anyone who works with children, as we have implemented in the eight dioceses throughout New York State.
We thank the brave survivors who have told their stories of abuse in every sector of society. Their witness has moved us all. We renew our commitment to combatting the monstrous crime of childhood sexual abuse and helping all survivors find recourse and reconciliation as they heal.”
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York
Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger, Bishop of Albany
Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn
Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, Bishop of Buffalo
Most Rev. Terry R. LaValley, Bishop of Ogdensburg
Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Rochester
Most Rev. John O. Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre
Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham, Bishop of Syracuse