CHILD VICTIMS ACT - LOOKBACK WINDOW OPENS, BUT ALMOST ALL VICTIMS LEFT WITHOUT PATH TO PEACE, JUSTICE
(ALBANY, NY) This morning, the one-year lookback period opened in New York wherein, under the new Child Victims Act passed earlier this year, survivors of childhood sexual abuse will have a longer period of time to file suit against their attackers. The civil statute of limitations has been increased to age fifty five, instead of twenty three. Survivors will also have an entire year to file suit from their time of reporting. Previously, a short deadline for filing made it nearly impossible for survivors to prepare their cases for court while complying with the state’s timeframe. Some survivors and coalitions claim however that the law doesn’t do enough to provide a path to justice for victims who were not abused by a wealthy individual or institution. Of over 500 cases filed in New York courts this morning, almost all of them list wealthy individuals or institutions as defendants. “We need a non-institutional victims fund, similar to the public defender system, where survivors of child sexual abuse can seek justice for their hardships. My abuser raped over 300 kids, and none of them will be filing a claim, since the man who took our souls when we were just little children is now penniless, and no lawyers would take our cases,” said Gary Greenberg, a survivor of abuse who has made it his life’s mission to speak for the voiceless victims of childhood sexual assault in New York state. “Around ninety percent of survivors will not see a courtroom, since there is little or no incentive for lawyers to take their cases. They’re suffering and there is no path for them to alleviate that suffering even under the Child Victims Act. We call on Attorney General Letitia James to organize a fund to help ease the suffering of these survivors. Part of the cause of this epidemic is that abusers have walked free too easily for too long, knowing survivors would struggle with a backwards, restrictive legal system. Let’s make it easier for survivors to seek justice, and deter abusers at the same time,” said Stephen Carpineta, an organizer with the New York Progressive Action Network who works with Greenberg’s PAC. “My attacker fled the country and lives safely and happily in Ecuador. There is no path to justice for me, in my case. This is why I fight to make sure all survivors can find a path to peace and justice,” said Connie Altamirano, and activist who has worked with Greenberg for several years to advocate for New York’s children. “We must protect not only certain kids who were abused by the wealthy or by an institution, but all kids.” Greenberg’s PAC also worked to pass Erin’s Law this session, another bill regarding sexual abuse prevention which had been stymied in legislative committees for almost ten years. Governor Cuomo has not yet signed Erin’s Law, despite Greenberg’s encouragement. “Governor Cuomo should sign Erin’s Law immediately. We can take these small easy steps that will result in so much protection and empowerment for New York’s kids… It’s a no-brainer,” Greenberg said.