“To think that simply because you’re an adult you somehow can get to that point where you can speak up sooner is absurd,” said Assembly co-sponsor Catalina Cruz. She says current law doesn’t consider how traumatic it can be for victims of sexual abuse to come forward.
The proposal would establish a one-year “look-back” window for victims of sexual crimes that were eighteen years of age and older when the abuse occurred to file a civil lawsuit if they are time-barred by current statutes of limitations.
Survivors of sexual assault say it’s critical that abusers and “enabling institutions” are held accountable. “You can’t put a statute of limitation on this. Is the legislature really going to say that the path to justice is closed because some of us were over 18 when the abuse occurred? What number will it take for you to see us?” said sexual assault survivor Marissa Hoechstetter.
Back in 2019, the New York State legislature passed the Child Victims Act, which created a look-back window for survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits. The window was extended until August 14th of this year. So far lawmakers say there have been about 6,000 filings and counting as a result of that law.
And, they say there’s more work to be done. “Past these bills, we should be looking at how long it actually, statistically takes for a survivor to speak up,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou