NY extends window on Child Victims Act due to pandemic

NEW YORK (WBEN/AP) — New York residents who were sexually abused as children have an additional five months to sue those responsible after Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday extended a filing deadline to make up for curtailed court services during the coronavirus pandemic.

The deadline for filing civil claims under the Child Victims Act is now Jan. 14, 2021. The original one-year window for pursuing legal action had been scheduled to close Aug. 14.

"Because of the reduction in court services, we want to extend that window and we will extend it for an additional five months until January 14th", said Cuomo during his daily briefing Friday at Murray Student Center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.

"People need access to the courts to make their claim, because justice too long delayed is justice denied", added Cuomo in making a case for the extension.

Attorney Steve Boyd who represents multiple cases related to the Child Victims Act says he has been working at full staff and continually taking in new clients during the pandemic.

"It hasn't affected the ability to start the case between the client and the lawyer.  What it has impacted though is our ability to actually file the lawsuits."

The 2019 Child Victims Act suspended the statute of limitations for a year to allow victims to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse against priests, teachers, Boy Scout leaders and other adults. Cuomo said the pandemic had limited survivors’ ability to file claims and effectively prepare their cases with an attorney.

A coalition of survivors and victims’ advocates in March asked Cuomo to extend the filing period by a full year because of the coronavirus-shortened window. Nearly 1,800 cases had been filed by late March, the group wrote in a letter, and more were expected.