New York Adult Survivors Act Lawsuits Now Being Filed, After One-Year Window Opens for Previously Barred Sexual Assault Claims

A similar law involving sexual assaults on children resulted in 10,000 lawsuits filed over the course of two years.

New York State courts are bracing for a flood of sexual assault lawsuits to be filed in the coming months, after a new law went into effect on Thanksgiving Day, which allows adult survivors to file civil lawsuits against their abusers over the next twelve months, regardless of whether the statute of limitations on their claim previously expired.

The New York Adult Survivors Act was signed into law by New York Governor Kathy Hochul in May, opening a one-year window in the statute of limitations starting on November 24, 2022, and reports suggest hundreds of plaintiffs have already indicated plans to file.

Under the new law, adult sexual assault survivors in New York have an opportunity to pursue justice against abusers, as well as businesses and institutions that enabled the abusers conduct. Claims can also be pursued against the state government or other entities that employed sexual predators, often ignoring or encouraging an environment that allowed the assaults to occur.

The New York Adult Survivor Act lawsuits are similar to claims brought under the New York Child Victims Act, which became law in 2019, giving individuals who were survivors of abuse as a child a two-year “window” to pursue their claims. That measure resulted in generated more than 10,000 New York sex abuse claims after it went into effect.

Many of the lawsuits are expected to be filed against New York State itself. Hundreds of women who served prison sentences say they intend to file lawsuits due to sexual abuse that occurred while they were incarcerated by the state.

Some of the lawsuits are also targeting rich and powerful people, including former President Donald Trump, as well as at the estates of deceased defendants, such as Jeffrey Eppstein.

It does not matter when the event took place, even if it occurred decades ago.

Statute of limitations are laws vary by state, restricting the amount of time an individual can take before bringing a civil case. In sex abuse lawsuits, the deadline is usually based upon when the victim knew the alleged perpetrator caused their injuries, though in the case of child abuse, most states don’t start counting the time that had passed until the victim turns 18.

After being stalled in the state legislature last year, the Adult Survivors Act passed easily in the New York State Senate and the House Assembly earlier this year, and it was signed by Governor Hochul the next day.

The Child Victims Act had a much harder time, with advocates fighting for more than a dozen years to overcome resistance from the Boy Scouts of American and the Catholic Church. Most of the resulting lawsuits following that bills passage were against those two organizations, and the Boy Scouts of America were driven into bankruptcy by the weight of the child abuse litigation it faced until it agreed to pay at least $2.5 billion to settle the claims in September. The settlement agreement has not yet been finalized.

Other states have passed similar child abuse legislation since August 2019. New York was one of the first to put such measures in place. While New Jersey has a similar law to the Adult Survivor’s Act, it is unclear whether states will follow suit for instances of adult abuse as well.


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