New York is proposing a law that will facilitate child sex abuse victims to seek justice as adults. According to an article published in the New York Daily News, founder of the #MeToo movement Tarana Burke will be calling for the Child Victim’s Act passage later this month at a public event on Long Island.
The bill will allow victims to bring civil cases up until they turn 50 years old and felony criminal cases until they turn 28. As it stands now, survivors can bring cases until their 23rd birthdays. The bill will also include a year-long window in which to revive old cases and allow public and private institutions to have an identical statute of limitations.
Now, victims abused in a public setting (such as a school) have only 90 days from the date of the incident to file the intent to sue.
However, religious organizations including some of the Orthodox Jewish population and Catholic Church are against the provision allowing victims to reopen old cases.
According to nonprofit The Nation Center for Victims of Crime, the state statutes of limitations across the nation for the prosecution of various sexual assault crimes vary, although as of 2013, there were twenty-seven states with a DNA exception extending the prosecutions’ time limit. This DNA exception lets the statute toll, or stop, when a perpetrator is later discovered or identified through DNA evidence.
Texas and California proposed removing their statute of limitations for sexual assault cases and Washington state lawmakers passed a bill in the house that did away with the statute of limitations on sex crimes, which currently faces challenges in the Senate.
Eight states already have no statute of limitations for prosecuting felony sexual assault including Wyoming, Delaware and South Carolina.
In 2007, Burke devised her #MeToo campaign to reach out to sexual assault survivors, which grew quickly as a nationwide movement last year after the news on Harvey Weinstein abusing dozens of women was widely reported. One of the sponsors of the event on Long Island noted that issues of sexual harassment, child sex abuse, and abuse of women are linked.
As the #MeToo movement grows, we will expect to see additional bills like this being introduced throughout the US. This is part of a wider shift focusing on healing, accountability, and prosecuting the perpetrators.