NY Legislature Expands Statute of Limitations on Rape

Press Releases / June 20, 2019


Thirteen years after NOW-NYC and Women’s Justice NOW worked to eliminate the statute of limitations on rape in the first  degree, the organization applauds Governor Cuomo, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, Senator Alessandra Biaggi and the many NOW members who advocated for extending the statute of limitations for rape in the second and third degree and criminal sexual acts in the second degree. The legislation was approved nearly unanimously in the state Senate late Wednesday after passing in the state Assembly earlier in the day.

Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women – New York and Executive Director, Women’s Justice NOW said, “If the #MeToo movement has shown us anything, it is the degree to which rape is predatory and pervasive. Its effects run deep for individuals and communities, and the social and economic impact is staggering.”

Ossorio added, “When Governor Cuomo signs this critical legislation into law, it will be a mandate for law enforcement across the state that rape must be taken seriously and seeking justice for victims of this heinous crime must be a top priority.”

The statute of limitations for rape in the second degree and criminal sexual act in the second degree will be extended from the current five years to 20 years.  These same crimes in the third degree will be extended from five to ten years. The legislation also allows for civil action. Victims will be able to bring civil litigation against their alleged assailants for up to 20 years after the offense. The legislation will fully eliminate the state of limitations on incest in the first degree.

The legislation is also a signal of the weight with which our state considers these crimes. This is a mandate for the NYPD, which was cited for failures to sufficiently respond to sexual assualt crimes by the Department of Investigations, and for police across the state, to strengthen their response to anyone reporting rape or sexual assault.

The legislation will take effect immediately upon being signed into law by Governor Cuomo, who has championed the cause. It will apply to all future cases, but will also extend the window for alleged crimes where the statute of limitations has not yet expired.

“By providing victims more time to bring claims in court, we are honoring those who suffered pain, endured humiliation and had the courage to come forward,”  Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “With the passage of this legislation, we are saying enough is enough.”

“All New Yorkers should know they have a right to seek justice and have their reporting of crimes be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted, and that the state of New York is giving victims more time to report,” said Sonia Ossorio. “This is a great victory for the women, men and families of New York.”


NOW-NYC ignites change for the women and girls of New York. We advance laws, promote women in politics, fight for reproductive justice, challenge discrimination and violence against women, and act NOW. Women’s Justice NOW is building a future of social justice and equality for all women by mobilizing communities, developing new activist leadership, and providing direct help and advocacy to women.

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