Survivors of Sexual Assault and their Allies met today at Vera House to celebrate Monday’s passing of the Child Victims Act. The act will increase the statute of limitations for survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil and criminal action.
Six months after the act is signed by Governor Cuomo, a one year revival window begins for survivors to take civil action. Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman says they will be preparing for that window in the upcoming months,.
"People are starting to consider, to think about what it would mean to them. Sometimes they would be looking to sue their perpetrator. Sometimes they would be looking to sue the institution that allowed the perpetrator to carry on acts."
Bregman says she’s not sure if local lawyers are seeking possible cases, though she has seen ads for out of town attorneys. Collen Merced is the executive director of McMahon Child Advocacy Center. She says changes in the statute of limitations show survivors that people care.
"A lot of these children and teenagers are not ready to tell their truth. This gives them the opportunity to take care of themselves, and one day know that they can speak their truth and speak out."
Under the Child Victims Act, the statue of limitations for pursuing a criminal suit was increased to age 28, and age 55 for a civil suit. Survivors welcomed the passing of this bill, which has been a goal of Vera House for over 12 years. Co-chair of the Survivor’s Network Alexandra Dukat called the activism of individual survivors critical for the passing of this legislation.
"Today, the voices of survivors and victims have been validated. Even amongst sharing collective pain and experiences, survivors and victims can now move forward with each other to collect the justice we so deserve."
While survivors celebrate the passing of this act by the state legislature, Governor Cuomo is expected to sign it into law soon.