Child Victims Act look-back window extended through August 2021

Aug 3, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Monday further extending the period of opportunity to pursue legal action in older child sex abuse cases.

Monday's action now pushes the deadline for plaintiffs to file lawsuits to August 14, 2021. It's the second extension enacted by the governor. In May, citing the COVID pandemic, Cuomo had pushed the original August 14, 2020 deadline to January.

The Child Victims Act, passed and enacted in 2019, allows victims of past abuses to pursue civil action at any time before they reach the age of 55. It also extends the amount of time during which perpetrators of child sex abuse may be held criminally accountable.

Attorney Steve Boyd, who is representing numerous plaintiffs, says many victims are unable to come forward and reveal past abuse until well into their adulthood. A previous statute of limitation gave victims until the age of 23 to pursue legal action.

"The ability to come forward and actually speak the words that you were abused by a priest or a Boy Scout leader are difficult, and the average age that a person has that they can do that is in their 50s. So there are people who were abused who have not yet been able to speak about it. They'll have another year to come forward and that's good news for them."

Boyd, in partnership with nationally-active attorney Jeff Anderson, has filed more than 240 lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. They have also filed numerous lawsuits against schools and former leaders within the Boy Scouts, but Boyd did not have the numbers of cases readily available when interviewed.