New York Law Provides Legal Options for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse


January 31, 2019  |  5:35 pm


Victims of childhood sexual abuse that occurred in New York now have for the first time, regardless of age, the opportunity to legally pursue a civil claim against their abusers and the institutions that protected and enabled them.

Attorney Richard M. Serbin, who has represented hundreds of child sexual abuse victims since the 1980s, stated: “This historic legislation will expose abusers, assist in protecting children and provide an opportunity for child abuse survivors to seek justice. Survivors in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, who have suffered the horrific consequences of child abuse alone for years, can now move forward with their claims and be paid for their years of torment. The original abuser may be dead, but the organization or institution behind them is still responsible.”

Under New York’s Child Victims Act, the rights of child victims of sex abuse have been expanded to include:

  • A one-year “window of opportunity” for VICTIMS OF ANY AGE to file civil claims against their abusers, and the institutions that covered up the abuse, no matter how long ago the abuse took place.

  • A right to file civil lawsuits against their abuser until the victim’s 55th birthday. Currently, the law only gives victims up to age 23 to file a lawsuit.

  • The ability of authorities to prosecute sex abuse cases as felonies until the victim is 28. Currently, the state’s statute of limitations sets an age limit of 23.

Law Applies to All Churches, School, Youth Organizations

Although the Child Victims Act arose from outrage over decades of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, the law applies to all institutions - private and public - including schools, youth groups, sporting organizations, scouting organizations, churches and more.


The New York Laws Favor Abuse Survivors

Serbin went on to state: “New York State Legislators and Governor Cuomo are to be commended for their enlightened approach to the sensitive issue of the years it takes for a child sex abuse victim to take legal steps to deal with the ugly, dark thoughts they have fought so hard to suppress. These new laws favor victims of abuse rather than those responsible for these crimes against innocent children.”


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