Thanks to the passage of the Child Victims Act in New York, residents who claim they were sexually abused as children now have the ability to bring civil lawsuits against their alleged abusers. The new law, which began August 14, allows victims who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests, teachers, scout leaders, counselors, or even family members the chance to finally have their stories be heard in a courtroom setting. Yet because the law is still very new, there are many aspects of it to keep in mind should you decide to consult a child sex abuse attorney about a possible lawsuit.
A very important part of the Child Victims Act, the “look-back window” allows victims who consult a sex abuse lawyer one year to file lawsuits against their alleged abusers that otherwise would have been impossible due to previous statutes of limitations. In addition, it also allows more time to file criminal charges against abusers, giving victims who were abused as far back as 50 or 60 years ago the chance to finally seek justice.
Criticisms of the Law
While child sex abuse advocacy groups applaud the passing of the Child Victims Act, some critics say many allegations of sexual abuse could be based on faulty evidence or memories. However, survivors and their families believe it is finally a chance to force alleged sex abusers to face their victims and be held accountable for their actions.
What Abusers are Being Sued?
When many victims choose to consult a child sex abuse attorney about filing a lawsuit, most of the cases involve suing not only an alleged abuser, but also the institution for which the abuser worked. One of the most glaring examples of this involves the lawsuits being filed by hundreds of victims against Rockefeller University Hospital in Manhattan. According to victims, one of the hospital’s doctors, Reginald Archibald, may have spent the better part of four decades committing sexual abuse against children who were patients at the hospital. Though Dr. Archibald died in 2007, the hospital itself could potentially be held accountable for his alleged actions.
Success in Other States
While New York’s Child Victims Act is just getting started, other states over the years have enacted similar laws, and have reported great success. Other states that have enacted these laws include:
In regards to California, the one-year “look back window” was in effect in 2003, resulting in 1,000 cases being filed and hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements for victims. As for Minnesota, it closed its “look back window” in 2016. But before doing so, numerous Catholic dioceses filed for bankruptcy protection due to the number of lawsuits brought forth against them.
If you have lived with the shame and guilt of being sexually abused as a child by someone you trusted, do not hesitate to contact a sex abuse lawyer for an immediate consultation. With the passage of the Child Victims Act, the law is finally on your side.