Child Abuse Victims Act Goes into Effect in NY - Lawsuits Expected to be Filed Against Archdiocese of NY

Over 400 lawsuits have been filed

According to the New York Child Victims Act, a new law which was signed earlier this year on February 14, adult survivors of child sexual abuse can now sue their abuser or a negligent institution, regardless of how many years have passed. These adult survivors have one year, starting from August 14, to file their lawsuits.

The one year filing period, which is referred to as a “look-back window,” enables victims to bring forward their cases which used to be beyond the statute of limitations of the state. Initially, most adult survivors of child sexual abuse in New York were cut off if they were older than 23. But with the new law in effect, adult survivors have time to file both civil and criminal cases, and the look-back window is also now open for old cases.

Since the law came into effect, a total of 427 lawsuits have been filed, according to Lucian Chalfen, a spokesperson for the New York Unified Court System. Out of the 427 lawsuits, 169 cases were filed within New York City, while 258 cases were filed from outside the city. 35 suits were filed against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester.

Chalfen added that 45 judges have been set aside solely for the purpose of dealing with these cases, as the state court system was expecting a huge influx of lawsuits. Out of the 45 judges, 12 are in New York City.

In the coming days, lawsuits field against powerful figures and institutions like the Archdiocese of New York, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Boy Scouts, Rockefeller University, and others are expected.

Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York said the archdiocese has been anticipating lawsuits since the law was passed in February. He added they anticipate legal actions even though they “continue to invite people to consider our successful program to bring compensation quickly to qualified claimants through the archdiocesan Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.”

Zwilling also said the archdiocese is asking people to “pray for peace and healing” for the victims of child sexual abuse, as well as their families.

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