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Cuomo and lawmakers agree – again – to pass Child Victims Act in 2019

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said again Friday that he will be placing into his coming state budget a measure to give victims of childhood sexual abuse a path to legally pursue their attackers in civil and criminal courts.

The inclusion of the measure into the 2019 budget could be more symbolic: The budget is not due until March 31 and lawmakers have been saying they expect the Child Victims Act to be approved as a separate bill, probably in February.

All sides have already said they agree on many of the key components of the measure, which was blocked in previous years in the Senate when it was controlled by Republicans who echoed concerns by the Catholic Church and others about some of the look-back provisions of the bill.

The Cuomo administration Friday said the Child Victims Act language Cuomo will insert into his 2019 budget plan next Tuesday is “consistent” with legislation already sponsored in the Assembly by Linda Rosenthal and in the Senate by Brad Hoylman, who are both Manhattan Democrats.

“There has been a degradation of justice for childhood sexual assault survivors who have suffered for decades by the authority figures they trusted most. That ends this year with the enactment of the Child Victims Act to provide survivors with a long-overdue path to justice," Cuomo said in a statement Friday.

The governor’s comments come after the Assembly already has passed the measure in the past and officials there said it would be approved in early 2019 with support now from the Democrats who control the State Senate.

The governor will be trickling out some details of his more than $170 billion spending plan between now and 2 p.m. Tuesday when he puts out the full plan during a speech at a state theater near the Capitol.

Presently, child sexual abuse cases must be prosecuted within five years of the alleged crimes and victims must start any civil actions three years after they turn 18 years old.

It’s an Albany fait accompli that the legislation will be approved this session. The Catholic Church has already said it expects passage and a group of child victim advocates have a rally planned for Monday at the Capitol that they are billing as a “celebration” for the expected approval of the bill. Top Democrats from the Senate and Assembly members are due to attend the event.

The measure all sides agree to pass includes a controversial look-back period in which victims who suffered at the hands of an abuser or abusers long ago will have a one-year window in which to commence a civil action. That provision was a deal-killer in recent years for the Senate Republicans, who lost control of the 63-member chamber in the November elections.

The Child Victims Act also will expand time limits for which criminal cases can be brought and it lets victims bring civil lawsuits up until they reach the age of 50.

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