On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, the Child Victims Act went into effect in New York. This is a long-awaited act in the state that will make it easier for those who were victims of sexual abuse as children to take action and get justice as adults.
The act changes several measures that were previously enforced, which used to be a huge barrier for adults who wanted to take action for the abuse they suffered years earlier.
What changes does the Child Victims Act make?
The Child Victims Act changes the limitations for filing lawsuits for sexual abuse. Until the law was put into effect, those over the age of 23 could not file criminal charges for allegations of sexual abuse that occurred when they were children. Under the new law, sex abuse victims can file criminal charges until they turn 28. Child sex abuse victims can file civil cases until they turn 55.
In addition to these key changes in the law, there will be a one-year window starting from six months after the law takes effect in which all victims of child sexual abuse can take action to sue.
What effect has the new law had?
Within minutes of the new law taking effect, there were more than 100 Child Victims Act lawsuits filed. These filings occurred in 11 of the 62 counties of New York, including New York City. The majority of those accused of sexual abuse of children are Catholic dioceses. There have been several instances of multiple lawsuits being filed against individual dioceses across the state. Other lawsuits have been brought against the Boy Scouts of America and homeless shelters.
I am worried about taking action, what should I do?
Many people who have suffered sexual abuse as children are afraid to take legal action. If you suffered abuse, you may be reluctant to recall the trauma, and you may be worried about your case becoming public. You should take the time to understand the law because there are many ways that the law can protect your interests and help you to get justice. By investigating your options, you will be able to find the best way for you to act.