More than 400 Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits Filed in New York
A new law in New York opened a limited window when child sexual abuse victims can file civil and criminal charges against alleged abusers, including individuals and institutions, without hinderance from statutes of limitations. On the first day when victims could file charges under the state's Child Victims Act, the New York Office of Court Administration recorded that 427 lawsuits were filed.
According to WNYC, victims will have until 13 August 2020 to bring file criminal charges if they are under 28 years old or civil action until they reach the age of 55. The law only offers victims a one-year window of opportunity to file civil lawsuits related to accusations of child sexual abuse, including in instances where a case was previously dismissed for being pursued outside of the statute of limitations. Previously, victims of child sexual abuse could only file a civil suit until their 23rd birthday in New York.
Victims of sexual abuse or assault may sometimes remain silent for years after an incident, whether due to fear of retaliation or shame, often pushing their chance of a civil case past the statute of limitations.
Some of the targets named in the lawsuits include the late Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, as well as the Roman Catholic Church (including schools or orphanages run by the Church), the Boy Scouts, school districts, and hospitals. One suit was filed by 45 former Rockefeller University Hospital patients, which claimed that an endocrinologist molested hundreds of boys over more than 30 years.
According to CNN, the state tapped 45 judges to deal solely with the cases, which were expected to flood in during this one-year window to file.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office offers various resources on how to deal with issues surrounding such abuse, from prevention to support for victims. A 2010 GAO report, featured in Security Management, found that schools across the U.S. hired persons who had either previously sexually exploited or targeted children.