“The courageous survivors of childhood sexual abuse who have raised their voices and shared their devastating stories to help bring justice to those harmed by this crime, have suffered and sacrificed to get to this point. Today’s passage of the Child Victims Act (CVA) is their victory. While the terrible crimes perpetrated against them can never be undone, a new avenue of recourse has been created and that is significant. That is why I voted in support of the bill.
But in the race to check the “done” box on this issue, the Senate has missed an opportunity to deliver full justice to the majority of child sexual abuse survivors - those abused by family, step-family, neighbors or other private individuals without deep pockets to pay a settlement.
Yes, this bill will give all victims the opportunity to pursue restitution in the civil court. But, in reality, most of the victims receiving financial awards will be those survivors whose abusers were institutionally affiliated. For everyone else, there will be little or no restitution to help pay for therapy, substance abuse treatment, a college education or any of the other supports that can help rebuild a life that has been derailed by trauma.
Neither will this legislation make any measurable difference in locking up more of these predators so that they cannot victimize other children. With most victims unable to confront their abuse until their 40s, changing the criminal statute of limitations from 23 to 28, as this measure does, is essentially preserving the status quo.
The Child Victims Fund (CVF), which I introduced, would address both of these gaps. The bill would offer all child sexual abuse victims the compensation they need and deserve from a $300 million fund drawn from the Manhattan district attorney’s nearly $1 billion cache of criminal asset forfeiture monies. Additionally, the criminal statute of limitations on child sexual abuse would be completely eliminated under this measure to make it easier to prosecute these perpetrators and put them safely behind bars.
All the victims of child sexual abuse need our help. Today, we took a giant step forward. But there is more we can and should do to ensure full justice for all. Let’s keep working until we reach that goal.”