FULTON – For survivors of child abuse Aug. 14 marked the beginning of new legislation that has the power to provide child victims some much needed relief. The NYS Child Victims Act opens a one year window beginning Aug. 14 that allows child abuse survivors up to age 55 to file civil suits against their abuser as well as individuals and organizations that failed to protect them.
“This legislation is going to go a long way towards exposing sexual crimes against children,” said Karrie Damm, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County. “The NYS Child Victims Act ensures that those that have been abused have a path to justice and that abusers and those that overlooked the abuse will be held accountable regardless of when the abuse occurred.”
Previously child sexual abuse offenses could not be prosecuted after five years from their occurrence and civil lawsuits were to be brought within three years from the victim’s 18th birthday. The NYS Child Victims Act brings sweeping changes that empowers those who have suffered child abuse.
These changes include:
• Increasing the amount of time during which perpetrators of these crimes may be held criminally accountable;
• Allowing victims of these crimes to commence a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach 55 years of age;
• Allowing victims whose claims had been time-barred a new opportunity for their day in court;
• Eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor.
“This is ground breaking legislation,” said Damm. “We are spreading the word about the NYS Child Victims Act and letting survivors of child abuse know that there is new hope for them regarding the ability to file civil and criminal suits against their abusers. For some child abuse survivors it takes years for them to overcome the shame and betrayal they experienced. The NYS Child Victims Act goes a long way in helping them with the healing process and the satisfaction of knowing that they may receive justice for the abuse they suffered. This is powerful legislation that may have a profoundly positive effect.”
“Jeff Dion, deputy executive director for the National Center for Victims of Crime and the director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, who is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, summed up the importance of legislation and the one year window perfectly when he said: ‘We must let the victims who were abused long ago come forward now to expose perpetrators because pedophiles don’t retire.’” added Damm.
For more information on the NYS Child Victims Act, contact the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County at 315-59CHILD (315-592-4453) or visit www.oswegocac.org.
Located at 163 S. First St. in Fulton, the CAC is a non-profit organization that works hand-in-hand with local law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, medical providers, mental health providers, and victim advocacy professionals in Oswego County to protect and serve child victims of sexual and physical abuse. For information on how people can support the efforts of the CAC visit www.oswegcac.org.