Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2020 at 3:00 pm
After spending thirteen years advocating for child sex abuse victims, lawmakers finally saw their hard work pay off. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act on February 14, 2019. This law gives survivors the opportunity to file civil lawsuits against their abusers up until they turn 55 years old. The previous statute of limitations required survivors to file before reaching the age of 23. Additionally, victims are now permitted to seek felony charges until they turn 28 years old.
The Act also issued a look-back window, giving victims a year to pursue legal action even if the statute of limitations already lapsed. Despite when the sexual abuse occurred, individuals who wanted to sue their abuser had until August 14, 2020, to do so. This provided them the opportunity to find a lawyer and have enough time to build a successful case. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic threw them a curveball, and the whole country had to shut down.
The First Extension to the Child Victims Act Deadline
When coronavirus showed up in the United States, it wasn’t clear how it would affect the economy. Business continued to run, and no one thought twice about heading out of their homes to proceed with their normal schedules. However, two months after the first confirmed case, states began issuing stay at home orders to reduce the spread of the virus. No one was allowed to go anywhere unless it was for an essential reason. In New York, the stay at home order went into effect on March 22, 2020.
During this time, millions of people lost their jobs and struggled to file unemployment claims. The court system put a hold on various lawsuits and wasn’t accepting any new ones under the Child Victims Act. To ensure child sex abuse survivors didn’t lose the opportunity to file lawsuits, Governor Cuomo signed a bill to extend the look-back window. The new deadline was scheduled for January 14, 2021.
Sex Abuse Survivors Have Additional Time to Pursue Legal Action
Although much of the country lifted their stay at home orders and people have resumed their usual routines, the pandemic is still very much a presence in everyone’s lives. COVID-19 cases are still increasing in many areas, and there are restrictions in place to reduce the spread of the virus. As of October 19, a total of 40 million people had tested positive, and there were over 1.1 million deaths.
Since it was clear that the pandemic wasn’t going to end any time soon, Governor Cuomo decided to extend the deadline yet again. The legislation is allowing child sex abuse victims to file claims until August 14, 2021. Much of the country is struggling to find work and can’t afford their daily expenses. With the second deadline extension, people have more time to start earning income again and figuring out how to pay for legal representation.
Thousands of Lawsuits Pending Under the Child Victims Act
Since August 2019, over 720 lawsuits were filed in Western New York under the Child Victims Act, with around 3,800 being filed throughout the state. Most of them are against teachers, Catholic priests, and scout leaders. Some involve law enforcement, family members, and doctors.
In the last two weeks alone, there have been lawsuits filed against Amherst Youth Hockey, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, and Big Brothers and Sisters of Niagara, Erie, and the Southern Tier.
Most notably, the Buffalo Diocese had to file for bankruptcy in February after receiving over 264 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. Other dioceses in the state were named as defendants, but new lawsuits have stopped because they also had to file for bankruptcy protection.
The Buffalo News analyzed other lawsuits under the Child Victims Act in Western New York, and they discovered the following:
- At least one dozen lawsuits against the Buffalo City School District
- Over 41 lawsuits against Kenmore-Tonawanda School District
- Around 12 lawsuits against scout leader Robert Eberhardt
- At least 20 lawsuits against Catholic priest Rev. Donald Becker
- More than 35 lawsuits against retired Kenmore-Tonawanda teacher Arthur Werner
Contact Hach & Rose, LLP for Assistance Holding Your Abuser Accountable
We understand the trauma you’ve experienced. Child sexual abuse is something that can impact the rest of your life. Although physical scars heal, emotional scars can linger for decades. Many survivors end up with depression, anxiety, and other psychological injuries. It’s hard to move forward and live a normal life.
When you hire us, we’ll fight hard for the justice and compensation you deserve. The Child Victims Act allows you to face your abuser and speak out about what happened. Don’t let them get away with what they did to you any longer. It’s your right to pursue legal action and ensure they suffer the consequences of their actions.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have a legal team with more than 100 years of combined experience. Our attorneys, paralegals, and support staff will work hard to resolve your case and reach a favorable outcome efficiently. It’s our goal to recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve. You can depend on us to remain by your side in the fight for justice.
We offer a free consultation to all prospective clients. There’s no risk for you to schedule an appointment and discuss your case with one of our attorneys. We’re happy to review all the details you provide and determine the available legal options.
We know you’re already feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of pursuing a legal case. You might worry about the additional expenses and don’t know if you can afford legal representation. That’s why we take all cases on contingency. That means there are no upfront fees or costs. We won’t charge you unless we’re able to recover compensation. If we lose your case, you won’t have to pay us.
If you were the victim of child sexual abuse, the compassionate and skilled childhood sexual abuse attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP can help. Call us immediately at (212) 779-0057. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.