CAPITOL — The victims of child sexual abuse will have at least another year to file lawsuits against their alleged abuser under a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday.
The legislation extended the so-called “look-back window” for victims to file suit over allegations of child sexual abuse regardless of when the abuse took place. The original Child Victims Act opened the door to new civil lawsuits beginning last August with an early flood of lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church, its schools and numerous clergy around the region. The suits against the Albany Diocese stemmed from alleged abuse dating to as far back as the 1950s. They included allegations of sexual abuse against former longtime Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard.
Other lawsuits have named local public school districts – including Shenendehowa, Niskayuna, Gloversville and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake – and claimed district officials at the time of alleged abuses did not sufficiently protect students.
In Burnt Hills, former high school principal Edward Warren was accused of repeatedly making “unpermitted sexual contact” with a teenage student from around 1980 to 1983. He served as high school principal from 1978 to 1985. In Niskayuna, a former student accused three other former students of sexually assaulting him while on a school-sponsored trip to the Adirondacks in the late-1970s, when they were all in middle school.
In one of the more recent filings under the law, longtime area wrestling coach Frank Popolizio Jr. said he was sexually abused by an assistant coach when he was young athlete on a Niskayuna wrestling trip.
When COVID-19 closures caused delays in the courts, Cuomo extended the look-back window, which would have expired this month under the original law, until Jan. 14. Lawmakers passed a bill extending the deadline until Aug. 14, 2021, which Cuomo signed Monday.
“The Child Victims brought a long-needed pathway to justice for people who were abused and helps right wrongs that went unacknowledged and unpunished for far too long and we cannot let this pandemic limit the ability for survivors to have their day in court,” Cuomo said in a released statement Monday.