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New York Abuse Advocates Push for Adult Survivor Act

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

It’s been three years since New York passed the Child Victims’ Act, allowing sexual abuse survivors to pursue justice in the civil courts. Now, abuse advocates are pressing state legislators to pass similar legislation for adult survivors of abuse.

The Child Victims Act, approved in 2019, opened up a one-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to bring their alleged abusers to court, in some cases years after the statute of limitation laws expired. The window was extended a second year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns that made it harder to access the state’s court system.

The act’s sponsor in the Senate, Brad Hoylman, said many survivors — including those who say they were abused as children by Catholic priests or Boy Scout leaders — took advantage of the opportunity to be heard.

“10,857 cases (were) filed under the Child Victims Act,” Hoylman said. “That is an example of success.”

When New Jersey passed similar legislation, it allowed claims from adult survivors as well.  However, both California and New York limited the legislation to cover only those who had been sexually abused as minors. 

The inequity in how we deal with abuse survivors, regardless of when the abuse occurred, must be changed.  The damage done to those who were adults should not be minimized just because they were above the age of 18 when they were abused.  It’s time for this legislation to pass and become the law in New York State.

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