A law in the state of New York allows survivors of child sex abuse to fight back against their abusers. It involves a moratorium on the statute of limitations to file lawsuits for the abuse. As a result of the changes to the law, thousands of lawsuits have since been filed by people who suffered childhood sexual abuse.
What happened with the statute of limitations?
Over the course of two years, New York temporarily extended the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits. Many of those lawsuits were against churches, camps, schools, hospitals and scout groups and alleged that the organizations turned a blind eye to sex abuse perpetrated against them when they were children.
Over time, more than 9,000 lawsuits were filed by victims of sexual abuse. Four of the Roman Catholic dioceses within the state have since filed for bankruptcy as a result of all the lawsuits, which come thanks to New York’s Child Victims Act.
Originally, the extension of the statute of limitations was set to expire a year ago, but circumstances resulted in it staying in place. As a result, many more lawsuits were filed by individuals who survived child sex abuse.
Survivors struggled to come forward and file lawsuits
While state courts are expecting more lawsuits from victims of sexual abuse, some survivors claimed they weren’t sure if they wanted to come forward. One woman, who suffered sex abuse at the hands of a man in her church when she was a teenager, ended up marrying her abuser. She stated that he groomed her throughout the years, leading her to wonder if she should speak out. Ultimately, she chose to file a lawsuit after ensuring that it was appropriate for her to do so in spite of marrying her abuser and having children with him.
While various dioceses are now claiming financial hardship from all the litigation, it doesn’t even come close to comparing with the years of suffering the survivors have endured. It is expected that the statute of limitations will not be extended further, but if it does, it’s definitely possible that more lawsuits will be filed.