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Child Victims Act extended for another year amid courts shutdown

May 29, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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The Child Victims Act, the law that gave sexual abuse survivors a one-year window to sue for abuse they suffered past the statute of limitations, was officially extended on Wednesday by the State Legislature.

Advocates said that the extension was necessary as the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down the courts to all but emergency and essential applications, which limited the ability of victims to sue. The current bill extends the law for another year, but still needs to be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take effect.

“The passage of the Child Victims Act remains one of the most historic victories for child abuse survivors in New York State, and the COVID pandemic nearly prevented countless survivors from ensuring accountability — but today’s vote proves that nothing can stand in the way of justice,” said James R. Marsh, a New York attorney who represents more than 700 childhood sexual abuse survivors statewide.

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“For many, the disruption caused by the pandemic threatened their ability to finally make their voices heard, but this one-year extension ensures that survivors have their day in court. As the judicial system reopens, survivors will continue to make their voices heard. We urge Governor Cuomo to pass this bill and remain firm in his commitment to justice for all,” he added.

There have been 40 new lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act this week alone against the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America and other organizations.

In Brooklyn, multiple lawsuits have been brought against Poly Prep Country Day School over the last year under the Child Victims Act, including a lawsuit against William Martire, a tennis coach at the school who was still employed at the time the suit was filed.

Martire was accused of allegedly forcibly assaulting a 14-year-old girl over a two-year period in the 1980s. Poly Prep did not respond to phone calls inquiring about whether or not the coach is still employed by the school. Poly Prep and Martire previously ignored requests for comment when the lawsuit was filed in December 2019.

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