Adults Who Were Sexually Abused As Children Will Soon Be Allowed To Sue Their Sexual Predators (and those who harbored them), No Matter How Long Ago It Happened In New York!

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On January 28 of this Year New York’s legislative bodies put the final touches on the “Child Victims Act”.  This is HUGE.  The new law will extend the statute of limitations for suing both sexual predators and anyone who negligently allowed the abuse to take place, including institutions such as schools, little leagues, boy scouts, counties who place children in foster care, churches, temples, and virtually anyone who knew or should have known of the abuse but did not do what they should have done to prevent it.

The previous statute of limitations was 23-years-of-age.  Now it’s 55.  But if the childhood victim is now older than 23 years of age, and his or her statute of limitations was thus expired before this new law passed, there is only a short window of time to sue:  from August 14 of 2019 through February 14, 2020.

Until this law took effect, New York lawyers had only two words to say to a victim of childhood sex abuse who wanted to bring a claim after his or her 23rd birthday:  “Too late”.  Now those two words will be:  “Sign here”.

The law was deemed just and necessary because – for complex psychological reasons – most childhood sexual assault victims do not start looking for legal remedies until many years after they become adults. They would then have to live out the rest of their lives with the shame, the pain, the psychological scars of childhood sexual abuse all while knowing that their predator was happily living out his days with impunity.

New York’s Catholic Church representatives must be trembling in their cassocks.  For years the Church has hidden behind those short sexual abuse statutes of limitations to escape justice. They have yet to pay the price for having shuffled sexual predators from one parish to another, from one set of victims to another.  But now the Church itself will be shuffled from one courthouse to another to account for its wrongdoing.

I was an alter boy at Our Lady of Solace Church in Syracuse.  I had nothing but good experiences with the priests there.  But others were not so lucky. They deserve their day in Court.  Keep in mind that a civil lawsuit is about monetary compensation.  And money won’t make the trauma disappear. Nevertheless, exposing the predators, and those who protected them, in court, and making them pay some kind of price, should provide the victims with both a small measure of economic fairness and a large measure of justice.

Victims should beware, though, as there is an inherent injustice embedded in our civil justice system.  Namely, you can’t get water from a rock.  If a victim was sexually abused by someone who has no assets worth pursuing, it will be very difficult to find a New York personal injury lawyer who will take the case on.  Some of the institutions who harbored the pedophiles may end up in bankruptcy as the floodgates of litigation open.  Victims are thus well advised to act NOW before other victims run the well dry. Few lawyers will want to spend years pursuing and litigating against a defendant with empty pockets. And if a victim is now over 23 years old, he or she MUST act now:  The one-time grace period for suing will start to run soon.

While the Catholic Church may be the most notorious abuser, it certainly is not the only one with reason to fear the onslaught of lawsuits:  Private and public schools (especially boarding schools), Orthodox Jewish communities, little leagues, and even the Boy Scouts have had their sexual abuse problems.

At Michaels & Smolak, we hope many victims receive just compensation.  But we also hope the new law will reduce childhood sexual abuse in New York.  Would-be sexual perpetrators will now know that they can no longer rely on their childhood victims to stay silent past their 23rd year. The suing-clock will keep ticking until those “children” are 55, and they have had plenty of time to mature, and realize how badly hurt they were by that early life trauma.  Call us for a free consultation!

Keep safe!

Mike Bersani
Email me at: bersani@michaels-smolak.com I’d love to hear from you!
michaels-smolak.com
Syracuse NY Childhood Sexual Abuse Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.
315-253-3293

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