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Following a recent change to the New York statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims, a number of former patients of a Long Island pediatrician are now pursuing lawsuits, alleging that the doctor molested them decades ago.
The complaints have been filed against now 84 year-old Stuart Copperman, alleging that the New York pediatrician got away with years of damaging, degrading, and emotionally scarring female children seen at his practice, despite repeated complaints filed with the state’s medical board.
According to a report in the New York Times, the New York Office of Professional Medical Conduct received complaints about Copperman’s alleged sexual abuse of patients for almost 20 years before they took away his medical license in December 2000. However, by then Copperman was 65, preparing to retire, and was able to escape liability for numerous assaults that were then barred by the statute of limitations.
New York is one of several states that have recently extended the child sexual abuse lawsuit statute of limitations, and provided a “window” for any previously barred claim to be filed before August 14, 2019, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred or the current age of the victim.
The Child Victims Act was signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in February 2019, extending the statute of limitations for future sex abuse claims in the state until the victim is 55 years old, and allowing criminal charges to be brought against an abuser until the victim is 28 years old.
Since the law went into effect this summer, New York courts have received more than 500 claims that would have been time-barred otherwise.
While most of those sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America or other large institutions, a number of been filed against individuals and service providers.
A number of other states have also passed or are considering similar legislation to open the statute of limitations window for child sex abuse claims, since individuals were previously prevented from stepping forward to seek justice.