NY bill would allow adult sex abuse victims to sue, beyond statute of limitations

The New York capitol building. / Spiroview Inc/Shutterstock.

Albany, N.Y., May 28, 2021 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

Those who were sexually abused as adults would be given a one-year window in which to sue perpetrators and institutions, even if the statute of limitations has expired, under a bill being considered in New York.

The New York State Catholic Conference told CNA they remain neutral on the bill.

The Adult Survivors Act would allow a one year window for adults victims to bring forward suits in cases which have passed the statute of limitations. Some sex crimes in the state have a five-year statute of limitations.

The bill is similar to the Child Victims Act, a state law passed in 2019 that created a one-year extension of the statute of limitations for old sex abuse cases. Originally scheduled to close in August 2020, the one-year period was extended due to the coronavirus pandemic and will close Aug. 14.

The New York legislative session will end June 10.

The New York State Catholic Conference originally opposed the Child Victims Act.

“The New York State Catholic Conference removed opposition to the Child Victims Act in 2019, shortly before passage, when the sponsors amended it at our urging to include survivors of abuse in public institutions,” Interim Executive Director of the New York State Catholic Conference, Dennis Poust, told CNA.

Poust said that although the conference remains neutral on the Adult Survivors Act, they were pleased to see that the bill’s sponsors retained language that they successfully fought for in the Child Victims Act which provides equal treatment for survivors whose abuse occurred at the hands of public officials or those working in public institutions.

More than 2,800 suits have been filed against Catholic institutions under the Child Victims Act.

Four of the state’s dioceses— Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rockville Centre — have declared bankruptcy amid the lawsuits brought under the Child Victims Act.

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