NY's Window for Child Sex Abuse Victims to Sue Is Closing

More than 9K sued after time limit on abuse lawsuits was suspended
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 13, 2021 1:00 AM CDT
NY's Child Victim Act Window Closes Saturday
In this Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 photo, attorney Jeff Anderson, left, points to a chart of sexual abuse perpetrators during a news conference in New York, accompanied by sexual abuse victims Birdie Farrell, center, and Joseph Carramano.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

For two years, New York temporarily set aside its usual time limit on civil lawsuits in order to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue churches, hospitals, schools, camps, scout groups, and other institutions and people they hold responsible for enabling pedophiles or turning a blind eye to wrongdoing. That window closes Saturday, after more than 9,000 lawsuits were filed, a deluge whose impact may be felt for many years, the AP reports. Four of the state's Roman Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy partly as a result of litigation unleashed by the state's Child Victims Act. Thousands of new allegations against priests, teachers, scout leaders, and other authorities have intensified the already harsh light on institutions entrusted with caring for children. And survivors of abuse have been given an outlet for their trauma and a chance at accountability once thought long lost.

New York is among a number of states that have in recent years established windows allowing people to sue over childhood abuse no matter how long ago it took place. Similar windows were opened in New Jersey and California. New York's one-year window was originally supposed to end Aug. 14, 2020, but it was extended twice amid concerns that the pandemic and resulting court disruptions were keeping survivors from coming forward. Barring another extension, electronic filings will be accepted until midnight Saturday, according to a state courts spokesperson. The tsunami of litigation surprised even some of the lawyers who work regularly with alleged abuse victims. “We thought maybe we get one hundred cases or a couple hundred cases and here we are,” said attorney James Marsh, whose firm has filed about 800 cases.

(More New York state stories.)

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