New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday that extends the statute of limitations for certain cases of rape and other sex crimes.
He was joined at the signing by actresses who have been active in the Time’s Up movement, which aims to combat sexual harassment. They included Julianne Moore, Mira Sorvino, Amber Tamblyn and Michelle Hurd.
Under the new law, the statute of limitations for reporting second-degree rape increases to 20 years and third-degree rape increases to 10 years. Previously, both were five years.
“There has been an ongoing and pervasive culture of sexual harassment and abuse in our society, and it is made worse by the fact that victims of second- and third-degree rape only have five years to bring a legal claim against their attacker,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Five years is an insult to these survivors and today we’re providing them more time to come to terms with the trauma they experienced and to seek justice.”
The governor added, “This new law recognizes the injustice that has gone on for far too long and honors all the women who have suffered this pain and all the advocates who had the courage to come forward and tell their story so that other women may be spared the pain.”
The law eliminates the statute of limitations for incest in the first degree, and extends the statute to 20 years for incest in the second degree and for a second-degree criminal sexual act. For third-degree criminal sex acts, the statute of limitations is increased to 10 years.
And under the law, victims now have 20 years in which to bring a civil suit for the offenses.
“The signing of this bill is a watershed moment, a real advance in the battle against rape culture not only in New York but across the country,” Sorvino said. “Because of it more survivors can now have their rightful day in court and a chance for justice.”
In August, Cuomo signed legislation extending the statute of limitations for employment sexual harassment claims from one year to three years, his office said.
And in February, Cuomo signed into law the Child Victims Act, which allows survivors of child sexual assault to pursue criminal felony charges until they turn 28, and file a civil lawsuit before age 55.