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New York courts have seen an influx of child sex abuse lawsuits filed since a new law went into effect last year, opening a “window” for adults with claims that were previously barred by the statute of limitations to present claims against the perpetrators of abuse, and institutions that enabled the conduct.
According to a report by The Telegraph, more than 1,300 cases were filed between August 14, 2019 and the end of last year, with most involving allegations against the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts of America.
In August 2019, the New York sex abuse statute of limitations was extended, providing individuals until the age of 55 to pursue a civil lawsuit, and providing a one-year opening for individuals whose claims were previously barred to present their claim, regardless of when the abuse occurred or the curent age of the victim. Many of the claims filed last year in New York were brought under this “look-back” window.
After the New York Child Victims Act was signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in February 2019, the state court system set aside a group of 45 judges to specifically handle the anticipated influx of cases.
Amid growing recognition that large institutions like the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America and other entities covered up known instances of abuse for decades and actively worked to prevent individuals from presenting claims, New York and a number of other states have enacted legislation that extends the child sex abuse statute of limitations. Similar “windows” have also been opened in New Jersey, California and other states.
As child sex abuse lawyers continue to review and file claims over the coming months, the number of lawsuits filed in New York state is expected to increase, as the deadline for previously expired claims approaches in August 2020.