New York legislators are beginning to speak out against the years of injustice brought against child sexual abuse survivors. In January, the New York senate passed the Child Victims Act, which extends the age deadline by which child victims of sexual abuse may speak out against their abusers in civil cases to 55.
Additionally, this bill allows prosecutors to file criminal charges up until the survivor is 28. The act also enacts a one year “look-back window” which allows abuse survivors above the age of 55 to also seek legal recourse against their abusers.
The journey to pass the Child Victim Act involved significant opposition from the Catholic Church, potentially stemming from a fear of bankruptcies that might occur due to the massive influx of cases against the institution. While the Church has faced numerous sexual abuse scandals over the years, though, Pope Francis recently spoke out to address those involving nuns for the first time. In his statement, he expressed an interest in doing more to resolve these issues.
This is not the only step by the Church to make amends. While some churches and clergy members did not support the Child Victims Act, Pope Francis himself supported its passing. Additionally, some opposition from the Church subsided when a clause was added to the bill established equal punishments for both public and private institutions.
With the passing of this act in New York, along with the acknowledgment and support of the Pope, more nuns and child survivors might feel emboldened to voice their experiences of sexual abuse. Indeed, this act might be a stepping stone towards encouraging nuns and other survivors by giving them the platform to speak out against their attackers. Furthermore, the extensions of age deadlines outlined in this bill may give survivors more time to process their trauma, while still being able to take legal action when they feel prepared.
Navigating the legal system might be difficult, especially when it comes to traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse. If you or a loved one has suffered abuse, one of our experienced and compassionate child sex abuse lawyers could help you to find your voice to speak out against your abuser and build a case.