On Monday 23 November 2020 the Attorney General of the US state of New York, Letita James, announced on Twitter that she had filed a lawsuit against Buffalo Catholic Diocese alleging its leaders had engaged in a cover-up of sexual abuse by priests in contravention of church policy and in violation of state law.
The lawsuit is the first state legal action against the Catholic Church in New York that is borne out of a recent wave of abuse investigations which began in 2018. It is the culmination of just one of the eight inquiries still ongoing with respect to each Catholic diocese in the state. The remaining seven inquiries could result in further legal actions.
New legislation has been proposed which, if enacted, could pave the way for a state-operated fund in the state of New York. It is anticipated that the fund would be used by victims and survivors pursuing child abuse claims, as well as non-profit organisations that help survivors in doing so.
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.