New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victim’s Act in New York City on Thursday.
The governor’s office says the new law will provide necessary relief to child victims of sexual abuse by amending New York’s antiquated laws to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions regardless of when the crime occurred.
Those who have suffered childhood sexual abuse say this is a good first step but more needs to be done.
Heath Bromley was abused by Father Gary Mercure as a child but was unable to bring his abuser to justice in New York. Instead, Mercure was sentenced for crimes in Massachusetts in 2011 and is currently serving 20 to 25 years.
Bromley is thankful the Governor is taking action but is still waiting on an apology from the Catholic Church.
“The church that helped to protect pedophiles apologized to parishioners where I used to go and be an altar boy. Where I was an altar boy, where this abuse took place.”
Under current law, child sexual abuse offenses cannot be prosecuted after five years from their occurrence and civil lawsuits for this conduct must be brought within three years from the victim’s 18th birthday.
The law will also do the following:
- Increases the amount of time during which perpetrators of these crimes may be held criminally accountable;
- Allows victims of these crimes to commence a civil lawsuit at any time before they reach 55 years of age;
- Provides victims whose claims have been time-barred a new opportunity for their day in court by opening a one-year window for them to commence their action;
- Eliminates the need to file a notice of claim for sexual offenses committed against a minor;
- Requires judicial training with respect to crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors;
- Authorizes the Office of Court Administration to promulgate rules and regulations for the timely adjudication of revived actions.