Disgraced actor Kevin Spacy is among the latest alleged assailants ensnared by New York’s Child Victims Act as two victims claim the Oscar winner molested them in the mid-1980s. In a lawsuit filed on Sept. 9 in Manhattan Supreme Court, Spacey is accused of sexually assaulting one of his underage acting students as well as child actor Anthony Rapp in 1986. Both victims were about 14 at the time of the alleged incidents and claim to have suffered psychological trauma stemming from the incidents

An increasing number of similar cases continue to surface because of the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases, allowing victims of decades-old cases to sue their assailants and seek reparations. Recently extended, the state law remains in effect through August 2021. So far, more than 3,000 survivors of sexual abuse have sought legal action.

Victims have until August 2021 to seek legal action

In August, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation providing a full-year extension for the Child Victims Act, which was due to expire in January. For more than a decade, proponents of the law sought its passage, and Gov. Cuomo initially signed it into law in February 2019.

Among the key aspects of the Child Victims Act include:

  • Boosting the time of criminal accountability for sexual predators.
  • Allowing victims to take civil legal action before they turn 55 years old.
  • Allowing victims to seek criminal prosecution against abusers until turning 28. The previous age limit had been 23.
  • Providing survivors with additional opportunities to file civil lawsuits against public and private institutions such as school districts, churches and civic organizations. The time has increased to two years. Previously, victims only had a one-year window to take legal action.
  • Requiring training for judges in cases involving the sexual abuse of minors.

So far in New York, a number of teachers, Catholic priests, pastors and coaches have been accused in cases that date back to the 1960s. The well-known Spacey is among the teachers and mentors to be confronted by their alleged sexual abuse past.