By David Brand
A total of six plaintiffs filed civil complaints Wednesday in Queens Supreme Court against people who they say abused them — and the institutions that enabled the abuse or looked the other way — under the state’s landmark Child Victims Act.
The CVA, which was signed into law in February, includes a one-year “look-back window,” which opened Wednesday after months of preparation by state courts, attorneys and litigants. The look-back period enables people who were abused as children to sue their abusers and the institutions that abetted them, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred.
There were 427 cases filed statewide, including the six in Queens and another 163 in New York City’s other boroughs. Manhattan led the five boroughs with 94 cases filed, followed by Brooklyn, with 55. There were 11 cases filed in the Bronx and three in Staten Island.
The state court system has designated 45 judges to hear cases under the CVA, according to the Office of Court Administration. In Queens, Justices Chereé Buggs and Larry Love are handling the new cases. OCA said they will assign additional judges if needed.
“We have been preparing for months and are prepared for the anticipated filing of hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of cases starting today,” an OCA spokesperson told the Eagle.
The bill passed the Democratic controlled state Senate after failing in the chamber for years. Former Queens Assemblymember Margaret Markey had long championed the bill and stood behind Cuomo at the bill signing.
Markey had made it her mission to pass a version of the bill, motivated by her own son’s experience as a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest, The New York Times reported. Markey represented District 30 from 1999 to 2016 and introduced the first version of the bill in 2006.
“Since so many abused children are not able to come to grips with what has happened to them until much later in life,” she said in 2015. “It is the victims who suffer the most as a result of our state’s archaic statute of limitations for these offenses.”
The bill faced opposition from the Catholic church as well as the Boy Scouts of America before it finally passed. Both institutions have been preparing for an influx of lawsuits ahead of the one-year window.