New York opens window for adults to sue for sexual assault

May 24, 2022, 2:10 AM | Updated: 2:54 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York will temporarily set aside its time limit for adults who were sexually assaulted to bring lawsuits under a law signed Tuesday — a measure similar to one for child victims that sparked a surge of court actions.

The Adult Survivors Act signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul will open a one-year “window” for claims that would otherwise be barred by the state’s usual statute of limitations for lawsuits. The window will open in six months.

The law is modeled after the state’s Child Victims Act, which provided a similar window that closed in August. Advocates for survivors praised the act but said it failed to cover adults, who can experience the same sense of trauma or shame that makes it difficult to promptly seek accountability.

“It forgot a lot of people,” Hochul said during a bill-signing ceremony at the state Capitol. “What about the people who were adults when they experienced this trauma? We didn’t do enough to protect those individuals, until today.”

More than 10,800 lawsuits were filed under New York’s Child Victims Act during a two-year window, which had been extended because of difficulties bringing lawsuits during the pandemic.

People involved with the issue say it’s unclear if the new law would result in a similar number of lawsuits.

“I think that it’s impossible to predict,” said Liz Roberts, CEO of Safe Horizon, a victim assistance organization. “But we wouldn’t be surprised if it was a similar scale to what we saw with the Child Victims Act.”

Jennifer Freeman, of the Marsh Law Firm, said it’s possible some adults might be hesitant to move forward in court knowing defendants are likely to claim there was consent — which is not an issue in cases involving children. But Freeman, who has represented hundreds of sex abuse survivors, said it’s also possible some adults would be more prepared to move forward.

“A 45-year-old perhaps has a larger voice and ability to center themselves and bring on a claim versus someone who was sexually abused at age 6 when they really had a very difficult time processing what happened to them,” Freeman said.

And while Child Victims Act lawsuits often involved institutions like churches and camps, it’s possible there will be a larger share of cases against individuals under the new law, experts say.

Roberts said she expected a mix of cases against individuals and institutions, such as a hospital that failed to take action against an abusive doctor or a college that was aware of somebody who was sexually abusing students and failed to take action.

Advocates said New York, along with New Jersey before it, is among only a few states addressing the fact that it can take adults time to address trauma.

“What we’re doing by signing the law today is putting the power back in the hands of survivors,” advocate and survivor Marissa Hoechstetter said at the bill signing.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Starbucks leader grilled by Senate over anti-union actions

Longtime Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz faced sharp questioning Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
1 day ago
FILE - The overdose-reversal drug Narcan is displayed during training for employees of the Public H...
Associated Press

FDA approves over-the-counter Narcan; here’s what it means

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved selling naloxone without a prescription, the first over-the-counter opioid treatment.
1 day ago
FILE - A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by people experiencing homelessness, March 11...
Associated Press

Seattle, feds seek to end most oversight of city’s police

  SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department and Seattle officials asked a judge Tuesday to end most federal oversight of the city’s police department, saying its sustained, decade-long reform efforts are a model for other cities whose law enforcement agencies face federal civil rights investigations. Seattle has overhauled virtually all aspects of its police […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits

People who were sexually abused as children in Washington state may soon be able to bring lawsuits against the state, schools or other institutions for failing to stop the abuse, no matter when it happened.
2 days ago
Three children and three adults were killed in a shooting at a private Christian grade school in Na...
Associated Press

Nashville shooter who killed 6 drew maps, surveilled school

Three children were killed in a shooting at a private Christian grade school in Nashville on Monday, hospital officials said.
3 days ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Associated Press

Police: passenger pulled jet’s emergency slide before LAX to SEA flight

A passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight out of Los Angeles International Airport was detained for triggering the plane’s emergency slide prior to takeoff, authorities said.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.
Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
New York opens window for adults to sue for sexual assault