Yesterday (August 14) was the first day of a new one-year litigation window created this year to give New Yorkers who say they were victims of sex abuse a second chance to sue their abuser(s) in court.
New York previously had some of the strictest statute of limitations requirements for sex abuse cases in the entire country.
State lawmakers passed the Child Victims Act back in January after more than a decade of debate, which now gives victims until age 55 to file lawsuits and until age 28 to seek criminal charges, compared with 23 under the old statute. The law also created the one-year litigation window that went into effect yesterday.
By 5 p.m. yesterday, a total of 427 lawsuits were filed across the state against defendants that are traditionally known to be carers and protectors of children.
Cases were opened against public and private schools, hospitals, Boy Scout troops and the Roman Catholic Church–some with only one plaintiff and others with several dozen.
More lawsuits are expected over the coming year, as advocates, mental health experts and victims themselves say it can take years to find the courage to speak out.
A similar law passed in 2002 has so far resulted in Catholic dioceses in California to pay out $1.2 billion in legal settlements.