Nearly 10,000 Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits Filed As New York Deadline Expires

Various reports indicate nearly 10,000 cases were filed during a window opened in the New York statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits, which originally provided one year for previously expired claims to be brought against perpetrators and organizations who enabled the conduct, but was extended another year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo originally signed the Child Victims Act into law in February 2019, as part of an effort to allow survivors of sex abuse as a child to pursue damages from the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America and other large institutions that took active measures in prior years to suppress claims and prevent individuals from coming forward.

The law initially provided a one-year opening of the New York statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims that would have previously been barred. Individuals were provided a 365 days “grace period” to file a claim, starting August 14, 2019, regardless of when the sexual abuse occurred, or the current age of the victim. The law also extended the statute of limitations for future sex abuse claims in New York until the victim reaches the age of 55.

During the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the New York statute of limitations opening for otherwise barred child sex abuse lawsuits was extended to August 14, 2021, leading to a flurry of additional filings over the past few months.

As the expiration of this deadline approached, reports suggest that about 9,200 cases were filed, pursuing damages for claims that otherwise would have been barred. However, the final numbers are expected to exceed 10,000, according to some media reports, as filings surged as the deadline neared.

New York was one of the first states to extend the child sex abuse statute of limitations, but similar legislation has been passed or introduced in a number of states nationwide.

Since August 2019, thousands of previously barred claims have been filed in numerous states. However, as child sex abuse lawyers continue to review and file claims over the coming months, the number of lawsuits filed nationwide is expected to increase, particularly in New York, New Jersey, California and other states where “windows” in the statute of limitation have been opened for adult survivors to step forward and hold their abuse and the institutions that enabled the conduct accountable.

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