On February 14, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law. The Child Victims Act is designed to protect victims of childhood sexual abuse by making significant changes to victims’ ability to bring civil actions for such abuse.
Under the Child Victims Act, victims of childhood sexual abuse may bring civil lawsuits for such abuse until the date on which they turn fifty five (55) years of age. Previously, any such civil lawsuits were required to be brought by the time the victim turned twenty three (23) years of age. In addition, the Child Victims Act amends Section 3813 of the Education Law, as well as Sections 50-e and 50-i of the General Municipal Law, eliminating the notice of claim requirements for claims of childhood sexual abuse. Finally, the Child Victims Act also provides for a one (1) year window, commencing on August 14, 2019, during which victims of childhood sexual abuse may bring a civil lawsuit for such abuse, regardless of whether the statute of limitations for their claims have expired and/or regardless of whether they had previously brought lawsuits that were dismissed based upon the expiration of the then statute of limitation and/or the failure to file a notice of claim.
As a consequence of the lengthy statute of limitations that now applies to claims of childhood sexual abuse, the elimination of the notice of claim requirements for such claims, and the revival of previously expired and/or dismissed claims, a significant number of people may now come forward alleging past sexual abuse. Moreover, defending against these claims may be extremely difficult. Witnesses, including the alleged offenders, may be unavailable or, even if available, their recollections may have faded. Likewise, evidence such as student records and/or witness statements may no longer exist. As such, in light of the Child Victims Act, school districts should review their records for the following: prior civil lawsuits brought by former students alleging sexual misconduct that were dismissed as a result of the students’ failure to file a notice of claim or the expiration of the statute of limitations and/or any claims by former students alleging sexual misconduct which did not result in a civil lawsuit. Given the provisions of the Child Victims Act reviving expired claims, if your records show, or you are aware of, any of the foregoing, you should contact NYSIR immediately to notify them of the potential claims. In addition, you should ensure that you preserve any records that you have related to any such prior lawsuits or claims.
The Child Victims Act goes into effect immediately, with the exception of the provision reviving previously expired claims, which, as set forth above, goes into effect on August 14, 2019.
Should you have any questions, please contact William Kang, Esq.
 The Child Victims Act also amends the criminal procedure law, extending the statute of limitations for bringing criminal prosecutions for sexual offenses committed against children by five (5) years, until the date that the victims turn twenty eight (28) years of age. The previous statute of limitations expired after the victims turned twenty three (23) years of age.