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New Law Finally Gives Childhood Sex Abuse Victims a Shot at Justice

After more than a decade of activist efforts and legislative setbacks, many New York victims of childhood sexual abuse have gained the right to seek justice against their attackers and those who harbored them. Overcoming strong opposition from powerful interests, including institutions that might share substantial liability for these despicable acts, the bill passed the Legislature in January and was signed by Governor Cuomo on February 14, 2019. As attorneys who have long represented victims of clergy abuse, we recognize the momentousness of this legislation, and how hard victims and advocates worked for its passage.

What does the law do?

The Child Victims Act gives a significant number of people who thought they could not obtain a just result a second chance to hold their abusers accountable. The legislation contains several meaningful provisions, among them:

  • Extending the period of criminal liability — In some instances, abusers escaped criminal punishment because the statute of limitations had expired. Under the new measure, individuals accused of engaging in illegal sexual acts with children can face criminal charges until the victim is 28 years old.
  • Creating a one-year window for previously barred claims — On August 14, 2019, a one-year “look back” period will begin where adults can bring otherwise time-barred lawsuits against the people and institutions who were responsible for the mistreatment they suffered as children.
  • Allowing claims up to age 55 — Individuals who survived sexual assaults as children now can seek civil damages until they reach the age of 55. Previously, victims were required to file a claim by their 23rd

If you’ve been told that it is too late to take legal action relating to the sexual attacks you faced as a child, now is the time to get an informed perspective on whether the new law applies to your situation.

Who is protected?

The law is written to protect all victims of child sexual abuse in New York State, no matter who perpetrated the act. We know that for decades certain institutions and organizations have been safe harbors for predators. Religious organizations and the Boy Scouts of America are notorious for protecting abusers, such as clergy members and troop leaders. The Child Victims Act applies to many who were harmed within those groups as well as other organizations designed to serve young people, such as public and private schools, medical facilities, sports organizations, community centers and the foster care system.

What to do if you were abused

If you or someone you know was sexually abused as a child, contact us for a free, confidential consultation where our lawyers will outline your legal options.

Sample verdicts and settlements

As society comes to recognize the substantial and enduring harm caused by childhood sexual abuse, plaintiffs have been able to obtain financial compensation. Several verdicts and settlements have been won, including:

  • $27.5 million for four boys who were sexually assaulted by a Catechism teacher
  • $2 million for individual who was assaulted by a Catholic priest
  • $31 million for three boys abused by a Catholic priest
  • $11.45 million verdict for two victims of a church music instructor
  • Undisclosed settlement for three former Boy Scouts abused by a scout leader

As a leader in securing major recoveries for victims of illegal and negligent conduct, Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson is here to help New Yorkers who have been given a chance to pursue justice under the new law. To schedule a free consultation with a dedicated legal advocate for victims of childhood sex abuse, call us at 888.746.8212 or contact us online.


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