Child sex abuse is a crime that, unfortunately, has been covered up by religious organizations, schools, and other trusted institutions for decades. Our child sex abuse attorneys at Cannata, Hendele & Cannata, LLP, understand that the traumatic impact of sexual abuse can last a lifetime.
Last year, the New York State legislature passed the Child Victims Act, which gives abuse survivors a path to recover some justice for the horrible abuse they’ve suffered. While some abusers may think they've gotten away with it, this New York sex abuse law extends the statute of limitations to give victims an opportunity to pursue both criminal and civil charges against their abusers and those who facilitated or ignored the abuse.
Justice For Child Sex Abuse Victims
The Child Victims Act finally gives survivors justice. For decades, abuse survivors and advocates have worked to hold organizations, such as the Catholic Church, accountable for abusing and covering up the abuse of children. By extending the statute of limitations for civil litigation, this new law allows adult survivors of childhood abuse to bring lawsuits for abuse that occurred beyond the prior statute of limitations.
In addition to helping victims get the monetary compensation they deserve for the damage that’s been done to them, evidence and testimony that are made public during or after trial often expose how abusers operate. Removing the stigma of talking about child sex abuse and educating the public can help victims find healing as well as prevent it from happening to others.
How Changes In New York Sex Abuse Law Helps Victims
The Child Victims Act enables sex abuse victims in New York to find justice in both the civil and criminal courts.
Changes in Statute of Limitations For Civil Lawsuits
Even if the abuse happened decades ago, until the victim is the age of 55, victims who were abused when they were under the age of 18 can bring a civil action against their abuser and any organization or person who could have stopped the abuse. Due to trauma and shame, many victims suffer in silence and don’t tell anyone about what happened to them until decades have passed and they are much older.
It’s important to note that between August 14, 2019 and August 14, 2021, a child sex abuse victim can initiate a civil case no matter how old they are, even if the claim was too late under the previous statute of limitations. If a victim sued the abuser and/or organization before and the case was dismissed because it was beyond the statute of limitations, they can file another civil case against their abuser. Even if a Notice of Claim was never filed, they're entitled to file a civil claim until August 14, 2021.
Criminal Child Sex Abuse Charges
When it comes to criminal charges, younger sex abuse victims can now seek felony criminal prosecution until the age of 28 and misdemeanor charges until age 25. When a sex abuse victim is under the age of 11, there's usually no time limit for criminal charges. Unlike the civil court, criminal charges must be brought by the District Attorney on behalf of the People of the State of New York.
Victims May Bring Action Against Both Private And Public Institutions
Regardless of age, victims of child sex abuse can bring civil action against private and public institutions during the one-year window. Future victims are be able to bring civil action against both private and public agencies until the age of 55. For example, if a child was sexually abused by a foster parent, they may be able to sue their abuser and government organizations, such as Child Protective Services, if they're found to have acted negligently.
How An Attorney Can Protect Your Rights And Help You Find Justice
Many victims of abuse suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other conditions throughout their lives, which can significantly affect their quality of life. Therapy, medications, and other treatment for these conditions can come at a high financial cost as well. Although it’s hard to put a figure on the pain and suffering child abuse victims feel, an attorney who's well-versed in New York child sex abuse law can help you hold your abuser and any other responsible parties accountable by seeking financial compensation. It’s important to find a compassionate, experienced lawyer who can help you understand your rights and be your aggressive advocate when going up against abusers, institutions, and their insurance companies.
Contact Us To Learn More
If you were sexually abused as a child, you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore. Act quickly to ensure your rights are protected, and you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact our caring team to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.