Child Victims Act: Fighting Against the Sexual Abuse of Children in New York State
Child sexual abuse is among the most damaging, life-changing crimes. It generally impacts victims throughout their lifetimes and can cause significant family damage. Consistently, one of the worst aspects to these horrible acts is that the victims may not be able to bring attention to the abuse they suffered until many years later and, by then, any chance of criminal or civil prosecution may have been lost due to current and archaic state laws limiting the time to bring legal action. New York State laws have not always been on the side of the victims in terms of the amount of time they can seek such a prosecution. Instead, the laws have protected not only the abusers, but their cohorts, as a result of the short time period these victims have to prosecute or litigate them. Yet, that is no longer true. Contact our compassionate Child Victims Act lawyers today for a free legal consultation.
But New York has now changed the law to expand the right of the victims of child abuse to seek justice. In 2019, the Child Victims Act became law in New York. The statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of child abuse has been extended. Victims can now file a civil lawsuit at any point before reaching age 55. Child Victims Act lawyers in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and throughout the rest of New York State have been filing claims, now made possible by this law, and have been pursuing Child Victims Act settlements on behalf of their clients to help compensate victims for their loss.
Contact the lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP now for a free child sexual abuse case evaluation. Our compassionate legal team understands the pain and sensitivity these cases require, and we pledge to assist you in an atmosphere that will make you feel comfortable and safe as we explore your legal options and seek the compensation deserve under the Child Victims Act and other NYS laws. With the passage of the NY Child Victims Act, the law is now on your side. Let us assist and advocate for you during these stressful and emotional situations.
2019 New York Child Victims Act
The Child Victims Act of New York:
- Lengthens criminal and civil statutes of limitation for child sexual abuse. This is intended to strip child sexual abuse predators of the protections they formerly had and prevents them from hiding until the statute runs out and they can no longer face prosecution.
- Provides a one-time, one-year window to enable victims whose sexual abuse allegations were time-barred by today’s limitations to bring their claim. This offers an opportunity for abuse victims to see that justice is served after having been unfairly or criminally denied their day in court. This window to file a Child Victims Act lawsuit for formerly barred cases was extended in light of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020. The window was originally set to close Jan. 14, 2021, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the window until Aug. 14, 2021.
- Saves New York State extensive and significant financial and social costs. Research reveals that child sexual abuse costs New York State taxpayers over $1 billion annually.
Advocates of the New York statute once called the handling of child sexual abuse “a national shame”, citing how victims of child sexual abuse do not receive justice and noting that New York has lagged behind other states that have all passed bills in recent years to increase the length of time victims of child sexual abuse have to bring cases to court. In all, 37 states have eliminated statutes of limitation for cases of child sex abuse. Other states have increased the age by which victims may pursue a case; other states have implemented “window provisions.” A window provision is a period of time during which victims – regardless of their age – may file a civil suit against their alleged abusers. Qualified New York Child Victims Act lawyers can help you file cases to which this window applies before it is too late.
Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse
According to Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) studies, it is an alarming fact that one in five children is sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. Many sexual predators are known as so-called “lifelong predators” who have abused upwards of 100 children; however, only 10 percent of this abuse is reported. Tragically, victims of these crimes are often unable to discuss these crimes for many years because of predator intimidation or serious post-traumatic stress disorder responses, or both. This means that thousands of pedophiles, the sexual abusers of children, continue to live their lives, often living and working with or near children in the State of New York.
This “silent epidemic” of abuse is increased in severity by those who have criminally covered up for pedophiles and are also protected by unfavorable state statutes. In fact, special grand juries in Suffolk and Westchester counties have uncovered planned actions by institutions that have used deception and intimidation to dissuade victims from seeking legal recourse until expiration of the current statute of limitations. For too long statutes of limitation have made it difficult to prosecute those who have covered up for these criminals, but much of what made it impossible to hold institutions culpable has been eliminated by the NY Child Victims Act. Lawsuits can now be filed to sue institutions who have conspired to escape legal penalties by covering up crimes.
Child Sex Abuse Victims Lawsuits Against Clergy and Other Organizations
Allegations of sexual abuse in houses of worship nationwide have become an increasingly disturbing occurrence. With the news of more abuse by religious leaders making headlines, more victims are finding the support they need to come forward.
A prior abuse case in Boston revealed that the Catholic Church went to great lengths to protect a priest who was repeatedly accused of molesting children over a period of 30 years. According to legal proceedings and public statements, the list of Roman Catholic officials who allegedly remained silent, despite evidence that a Boston-area priest was molesting boys, grew to include one cardinal, five bishops, and several parish clergy. Unfortunately, the hiding of sexual abuse allegations by religious officials is not a rare occurrence and enables the abuse of countless children and the ongoing protection of the abusers and their cohorts well past the crimes’ statutes of limitations.
It has been more than a decade since a rash of allegations against Catholic priests surfaced. The Catholic Church has spent millions of dollars to defend itself against charges it knew of sexual abuse allegations being committed by its clergy. Many former priests have been sentenced to prison following their convictions, and more than 10 years later, priests and church officials continue to defend themselves against allegations of sexual abuse or conspiring to ignore these accusations. Hundreds, potentially thousands, of children were sexually abused by Catholic priests or other church officials and were often intimidated into not telling their parents or civil authorities of crimes committed against them.
New York Child Sex Abuse Cases in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community
The ultra-Orthodox Jewish population has also been the focus of a growing number of child sex abuse allegations. For example, previous allegations include those against a rabbi at a New York religious school in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community, who sexually abused students. Members of the Jewish community have long been encouraged by their leaders to take allegations of sexual misconduct to rabbis before making reports to secular authorities. According to at least one alleged victim’s family, victims are rarely believed and abusers are not punished.
In another example case, some 64 students alleged abuse by at least 22 faculty members at the exclusive Horace Mann School in the Bronx. On Long Island, foster father, Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu, was charged with the abuse of seven boys. Sexual abuse allegations have also been made against the Boy Scouts of America; the Jehovah’s Witnesses; and Penn State University and former coach, Jerry Sandusky, to name just a few. Before the Child Victims Act, New York statute of limitations for these types of cases made prosecution even more difficult.
Get Legal Help Now For a New York Child Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP offer free, no-obligation child sexual abuse case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online contact form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529). We can help you with your Child Victims Act lawsuit, and compassionately advocate for the legal action and compensation each victim is due.
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