The Child Victims Act

Starting August 14, 2019, survivors of any age will have a one-year window to come forward to prosecute childhood sexual abusers in New York.

A new law in New York is expanding the rights of survivors of sexual abuse that took place before the age of 18 by providing new opportunities to be heard. With the passage of the Child Victims Act, which is the culmination of 16 years of advocacy, New York has been transformed from a state with some of the worst statute of limitation laws for child sexual abuse survivors to a state with some of the best.

Sexual abuse of children is more widespread than anyone cares to imagine. For example, the recent federal indictments against financier Jeffrey Epstein and singer R. Kelly show that promises of advancing careers in the fashion and entertainment industries can be an effective tactic in luring victims into sexually abusive situations. The Child Victim Act is not only a step toward healing and compensating the individuals who have been harmed, but it is also essential to protect today’s children by exposing predators and the institutions they hide behind.

The Child Victims Act is now in effect and allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse to seek prosecution in New York against their abuser until the age of 55 in civil cases and until the age of 28 in criminal cases. Extending the statute of limitations is so crucial because statistics from Child USA report the average age that survivors of child sexual abuse disclose their experiences is 52-years-old. The bill also includes a one-year “look back” window during which survivors of any age can come forward to prosecute childhood sexual abusers in New York. The one-year window begins August 14, 2019

Often people do not come forward about sexual abuse that took place during childhood until many years or even decades later due to the nature of the trauma and how individuals processes and choose to move forward from those experiences. By extending the statute of limitations and also providing a one-time, year-long window for anyone to come forward, New York is attempting to do right by survivors whose voices have previously been silenced. Any survivor of sexual abuse that took place when they were a minor can now bring a claim against their abuser during this one-year window.

When survivors are given the opportunity to bring their abusers to court, it forces the disclosure of information that shows the abusers’ histories and how institutions may have failed to intervene, or how they were complicit. Survivors who come forward, at any age, do a public service by revealing the ways in which institutions and hidden predators are endangering children currently. The more survivors of childhood sexual assault are allowed into the justice system, the more abusers will be uncovered and the more light will be shined onto this largely invisible epidemic. 

If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and you would like to learn more about your rights and options, you can contact Model Alliance Support for assistance. You can also contact RAINN, the largest national anti-sexual violence organization, for more resources.

If you believe that you have encountered a modeling scam or a predatory company or individual, online or in-person, you can contact Model Alliance Support to confidentially report them. 

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