The State of New York’s Child Victims Act comes into force on 14 August. Thousands of claims are expected.
The commencement of the Child Victims Act in New York State, will open a one-year window for victims (using the terminology of the legislation), starting on the 14 August 2019, of any age to pursue a claim for damages against their alleged abusers. The claim does not have to be settled within the one-year window, but must be filed at Court during that time.
Previously time-barred claims can also be revived, if filed within the one year window.
After the window closes, victims who were younger than 23 years old when the bill became law in February 2019, will still be allowed to pursue civil claims against their alleged abusers until they reach 55 years of age.
Hundreds of lawsuits will be filed against the state’s dioceses, said Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a Texas lawyer who expects to file many church-abuse cases in New York. “I hate to say thousands, because I don’t know that. I think there are thousands of victims out there. The question is if they are going to come forward,” she said.
At present, one insurer to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has said that it is not planning to cover claims brought under the new law. In response, the Archdiocese has filed a lawsuit against 32 insurance companies to try forcing them to provide cover for the large number of claims it anticipates receiving after the 14 August.
Large numbers of claims against schools, youth groups, hospitals and other public institutions are also expected. New York state Catholic bishops dropped their opposition to the Act after it was amended to hold public entities equally accountable as private organisations under the law.
This change in the law in New York State is indicative of the overall approach to limitation in these claims worldwide where there is growing acceptance and recognition of the need for a long statute of limitation in claims arising from child sexual abuse as it can take victims and survivors years to come forward.
Recent statistics from Child USA provide that the majority of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse do not disclose the abuse until the average age of 52 if they disclose it at all.
Written by James Chambers at BLM