Important history was made back in February 2019 when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Child Victims Act into law. It’s one of the most comprehensive statutes ever passed that extends full rights to children to file lawsuits after being sexually abused. What’s equally important is that these legal cases can now be filed up until the former child survivor reaches the adult age of fifty-five (55).
Former statutes of limitations that once blocked these lawsuits after the child reached the age of twenty-three (23) are no longer binding. And for one full year after its signing, any New Yorker who was abused as a child – regardless of age – can bring this type of lawsuit. That signals a major step forward in combating this cruel societal wrong.
Furthermore, children or adults who seek to file lawsuits under the New York Child Victims Act are not prevented from moving forward if the childhood sexual abuse did not involve any form of actual physical contact with the perpetrator. After all, children subjected to adults who expose themselves, involve a child in any form of voyeurism – or make the child take part in any type of pornography can inflict just as much pain and damage as those who rape little children or teenagers.
Before discussing further aspects of this new law, our firm wants to note that the crime of childhood sexual abuse is greatly under reported. It causes extensive harm in children’s lives – it can even last until their dying days. Those wanting to learn more about childhood sexual abuse should visit the RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) website.
How does the new law simplify the legal procedures for filing this type of lawsuit?
Besides the new, lengthy deadline for filing these types of cases noted above, abuse survivors can now benefit from the following new legal realities.
- Past case dismissals for basic procedural reasons are not a bar to obtaining justice. Individuals whose previous cases were dismissed due to the prior, highly restrictive statute of limitations — are now free to pursue their valid claims;
- Specific procedural rules regarding municipalities are now far simpler. Child sexual abuse survivors who had prior claims denied due to problems with past claim notices can now bring those lawsuits again – in keeping with the new statute of limitations;
- Filing this type of abuse claim against a public institution has now become far less prohibitive. Past claimants were often refused the right to proceed against these entities (who had hired perpetrators) because of procedural rules involving notices to file claims;
- Law enforcement now has more time to pursue accused perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse. This also means that former victims of this type of abuse can ask that felony criminal charges be brought against their accused perpetrators (until the adult survivor has reached the age of 28). And misdemeanor charges can be filed on the survivors’ behalf until those plaintiffs reach their 25th birthdays.
While this list isn’t intended to be fully comprehensive, it does cover some of the most basic provisions of this new law.
What are the two main categories of sexual abuse of children?
The New York courts and legal system fully understand that many different types of unwanted or inappropriate sexual touching and other contact can constitute sexual abuse. In general, there are two main categories of abuse that make it possible for survivors to file claims.
- The child had to cope with unwanted sexual contact. No consent was given to the perpetrator. To constitute sexual abuse, actual physical penetration of the victim does not have to occur to be actionable. As noted above, involving a child in any form of pornography, voyeurism – or simply exposing one’s sexual organs to a child — may justify a lawsuit, depending on the circumstances;
- The child victim may have given “consent” but was clearly underage. Far too many adults in “trusted” positions in a teenager’s or child’s life know exactly how to verbally manipulate (or even “threaten”) a child to obtain what the adult considers “consent.” It’s important to remember that if you’re under New York state’s age of consent – seventeen years of age — you cannot provide legal permission or “consent” to any conniving adult who tried to use you. (Unique standards may also be applied if a somewhat older teen or young adult — with an established level of mental health issues — is assaulted or abused).
What are the most common types of sexual abuse committed against young people?
- Unwanted touching or groping – this normally involves the child’s “private parts;”
- Sexual exploitation of any kind. This can take many forms – it might even involve forcing a child to pose nude or partially clothed for photographs;
- Providing a young child or teen with drugs or alcohol while trying to sexually abuse that individual.
What will typically happen if we file this type of lawsuit on your behalf?
- We will hold all information shared with us in the strictest of confidence. We are
compassionate attorneys who will help you move forward at the pace that best suits the facts of your personal case;
- We will ask you to trust us with the names of not just the perpetrators – but all parties you believe or know may provide us with useful evidence or testimony on your behalf. However, please know that we’re aware that it’s sometimes difficult to move forward with these cases without some degree of proof to support your claims. No one wants you to get involved in this type of lawsuit unless we believe the specific facts of your case may fully support you;
- You will have the opportunity to not only work with your chosen attorney – we’ll also introduce you to other support staff. They will confidentially help us pursue your claim as diligently as possible. We will also initially help coordinate matters with those pursuing any criminal case on your behalf;
- You can rest assured that if we represent you, we’ll fully believe the facts of your childhood sexual abuse case. Based on what you share with us, you can also know that we’ll fight hard to win the full compensation available to you under this 2019 statute. By helping you obtain justice in a childhood sexual abuse case – we know were also helping to change society so that it can become a much safer place for all future children.
If you or a young child related to you has been sexually abused by an adult in New York, you should immediately contact our New York City child sexual abuse attorneys. We can provide you with the legal advice you need and help you decide if you wish to pursue litigation. If we decide to work together, we’ll do our very best to win the maximum compensation available for your claim– so you’ll receive monetary damages for all lost wages, pain and suffering, medical and psychological therapy expenses and other related losses.