The New York Child Victims Act created a 1-year “look-back window” for adult victims of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits that would have otherwise been past the state’s statute of limitations.
The window started on Wednesday, August 14th, 2019, allowing victims of any age to file a civil lawsuit, even if the abuse happened decades ago.
The new law also makes changes for future lawsuits. It will allow survivors of child sex abuse to file a civil lawsuit until they turn 55, an increase from the previous age limit of 23. It will also extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse — up to 28 years for felonies, and up to 25 years for misdemeanor charges.
A spokesman for the New York court system said 427 sex abuse lawsuits were filed on the first day.
The court has designated 45 judges to handle the influx of cases, with thousands of lawsuits expected to be filed against the Archdiocese of New York, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Rockefeller University, the Boy Scouts, Jeffrey Epstein, and others.
New York is not the first state to open a “look-back window” for sex abuse survivors. California had a similar 1-year window in 2003, which led to roughly 1,000 lawsuits and hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements. After Minnesota closed its window in 2016, multiple Catholic dioceses filed for bankruptcy protection due to the lawsuits.