NY lawmakers vote to ease statute of limitations for molestation

    January 22, 2019- Albany, NY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs Reproductive Health Act Legislation during a ceremony in the Red Room at the State Capitol. (Photo: Gov. Andrew Cuomo / Flickr)

    Albany, N.Y. (WHAM) - History was made in Albany on Monday as the New York State Assembly and Senate passed the Child Victims Act.

    The bill is a life-altering piece of legislation for survivors of sexual abuse. For the first time in their lives, survivors will be able to seek damages for their abuse - no matter their age.

    Kathryn Robb was nine years old when she said she was sexually abuse by her older brother. She kept the abuse a secret until she was 23.

    But by that time, New York's criminal statue had expired. She journeyed to Albany to help change that.

    "The message I think it sends to our society overall is that the law no longer going to protect predators. The law is going to protect children," Robb said.

    In future cases, the bill gives survivors substantially more time to file criminal charges and civil suits. For survivors of abuse, it is difficult to overstate the significance of what happened Monday.

    "It's taken us a number of years to get here, but we got here because of you and your tenacity," Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday morning when he addressed a crowd of advocates of the bill.

    Research shows that 1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Children with disabilities are nearly three times more likely to be sexually abused than children without disabilities.

    The Child Victims Act raises the age of the criminal statue for victims from 23 to 28. In civil cases, victims will now have until the age of 55 to seek damages. The bill also opens up a one-year window for any victims to seek civil damages against individuals, churches and even school districts.

    "The more that victims can report, the more children are safe because it exposes predators and it exposes institutions that cover up and hide those predators," Robb said.

    "It's tough going through the legal system and everyone needs to get their therapist and get themselves in order to be able to survive it, but it's liberating and it's empowering," said Marci Hamilton, an attorney and advocate for the Child Victims Act.

    The bill now awaits the signature of Governor Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law.

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