Since New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act into law in February 2019, dioceses throughout the state received lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of children by priests and other members. Multiple dioceses were forced to file for bankruptcy due to the costs associated with handling and potentially compensating victims in hundreds of cases. Recently, one of the members of the New York archdiocese gave an update on their financial situation following these civil lawsuits.
He states that they’re facing challenges while handling the many lawsuits filed against them. In 2016, they set up an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program for sexual abuse survivors. By accepting money from the fund, individuals agreed that they would not be entitled to compensation from a lawsuit down the road.
The influx of lawsuits and the impact of Covid-19 put the archdiocese in uncertain economic standing as they continue to assess their finances. They’re still receiving lawsuits for claims associated with childhood sexual abuse and are trying to reach settlements through their compensation program. As of December 2017, around 200 people had already received money for their losses from the New York archdiocese. Those settlements total over $40 million.
Rights Under the Child Victims Act
The Child Victims Act allows sexual abuse survivors to pursue compensation through civil lawsuits and press criminal charges against their abusers despite the expiration of the statute of limitations. Typically, New York law requires filing a civil lawsuit within three years of the incident date, unless the victim was under 18 years old at the time. Once they turn 18, they would have three years from that date to initiate legal action. For criminal cases, the statute of limitations is five years from the abuse date.
Now, the Act allows anyone who suffered abuse when they were children to initiate their civil lawsuit until they turn 55 years old. Anyone pressing criminal charges for a felony offense has up until the age of 28. For misdemeanor sex crimes, survivors can pursue criminal charges until they turn 25. There is a one-year “lookback window” to pursue a case against the offender and the institution or organization involved in the abuse.
The original filing deadline for cases outside the usual statute of limitations was August 14, 2020. However, Covid-19 significantly impacted courthouses throughout New York, causing all to close temporarily. Judges were forced to put their cases on hold, and no one was allowed to file new lawsuits.
Governor Cuomo decided it was necessary to extend the lookback window to January 14, 2021. He wanted to ensure survivors of sex crimes would have enough time to seek legal representation, prepare their cases, and file before time ran out.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic lasted far longer than anyone expected, prompting the Governor to push back the deadline again. The new legislation now gives anyone seeking financial compensation or criminal action against their abuser until August 14, 2021, to do so.
Whistleblower Exposes Alleged Sexual Abuse At A Buffalo Church
A former priest at a diocese in New York exposed an alleged cover-up of sexual misconduct. Along with other individuals, he brought to light the ongoing instances of sexual abuse occurring at the church. The whistleblower secretly recorded one of the bishops, releasing it to the public and disclosing activities of his co-workers. He was ultimately suspended for his actions. He claimed that he was the victim of sexual assault by a priest back in 2003 when he was in the seminary. He now leads a weekly mass via Zoom so survivors of sexual abuse can pray and discuss their experiences.
Lawsuit Filed Against Famous Musician
A lawsuit filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court alleges a musician raped a minor girl in 1969. According to legal documents, he met her multiple times before the misconduct occurred. He took an interest in the young girl and began grooming her. The victim stated she viewed him as a paternal figure at the time. She ended up running away from home in Minnesota and meeting him at his hotel room in New York City, where he allegedly raped her. The next day, the musician bought her a ticket to go back home and asked her to leave.
In 1970, the musician pled guilty to taking indecent liberties with a minor. He ended up serving only three months of his one- to three-year prison sentence for molesting a 14-year-old girl. Right before he left office, the then-President pardoned him for the offense in 1981. The recent lawsuit also names the defendant’s band at the time, claiming they should have known he posed a danger to children.
Contact Hach & Rose, LLP
The New York City personal injury lawyers of Hach & Rose, LLP have over 100 years of combined legal experience. We advocate for our clients’ rights and fight for the justice they rightfully deserve. When you hire us, we will provide ongoing support and guidance as you’re navigating the complicated legal road.
We know the abuse you experienced as a child was traumatic. Even after the physical injuries heal, sexual abuse often leaves psychological and emotional scars that take much longer to recover from.
You have legal options for pursuing financial compensation from the abuser for their wrongdoings. Because of the Child Victims Act, you don’t have to worry about the statute of limitations prohibiting you from seeking civil or criminal action. You now have the opportunity to face your abuser in court and hold them accountable for the harm they caused.
So far, Hach & Rose, LLP has recovered over $400 million in insurance settlements and jury verdicts. We fight hard to ensure our clients receive dependable legal services and representation from the moment they step into our offices. We will remain by your side throughout each step of the process and treat you as a priority.
If you were the victim of childhood sexual abuse and want to learn about your options for holding your abuser liable, call us at 646-685-8045 today for a free consultation.