(NEW YORK) — Hundreds of lawsuits are expected to be filed in New York as the state’s window allowing alleged child sexual abuse survivors to seek civil recourse opens.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed the Child Victims Act, which allows civil claims of child sexual abuse from any time period to be brought forth, in spite of existing statutes of limitations, for a one-year period starting Wednesday.
Now, multiple law firms have announced their intentions to file dozens, if not more than a hundred lawsuits a piece, on behalf of clients who allege that they were abused as children.
The suits are expected to allege wrongdoing by members of numerous high-profile organizations that work with children, including but not limited to various dioceses of the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, schools and other institutions.
“I think you will see hundreds or over a thousand cases filed today and then you will see hundreds more filed over the coming year,” said Jason Amala, an attorney at Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC.
Amala’s firm, which is based in Washington state and partnered with The Marsh Law Firm which is based in New York, will be filing 16 lawsuits on Wednesday and expect many more to come in the following weeks and months during the year-long window.
“I think today will be the biggest day, but as people see others coming forward, I think they’ll come forward as well,” Amala said.
Even after the one year window expires, many survivors of alleged child sexual abuse will still be able to seek justice under the Child Victims Act. Civil suits can now be filed until the alleged victim turns 55 years old, up from the current 23. And the state’s statute of limitations on criminal charges against alleged child sexual abusers has been expanded to until their victims turn 28 in certain cases, rather than 23.
Jeff Anderson and Associates, a law firm that regularly represents victims of clergy sex abuse, announced Tuesday that they will be filing over 200 lawsuits in New York on Wednesday.
Mike Reck, an attorney at Anderson and Associates, said that they will be filing cases “involving every diocese and the archdiocese in New York.”
“The Child Victim’s Act is a very powerful tool for child protection and it effectively catapults New York from the back of the pack to the front of the pack regarding child protection,” Reck told ABC News.
Reck said that prior to the Child Victims Act being signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February, New York’s statute of limitations was “abysmal and draconian.”
“That was one of the most restrictive rules in all of the United States of America and because of that rule, there were multiple generations that were kept from the justice available in the courts,” he said.
“These cases will expose dozens of perpetrators whose identities have been kept secret by the institutions that protected them,” Reck said, noting that victims are able to file their civil claims anonymously.
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