Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2020 at 6:32 pm
Since New York Governor Andrew Cuomo passed the Child Victims Act on February 14, 2019, thousands of individuals in the country have filed lawsuits against their abusers.
This legislation allows sexual abuse survivors to pursue civil and criminal action and receive the justice they deserve. Child sexual abuse is a problem that has been ignored for decades. Most offenders haven’t faced the legal ramifications of their actions because of the short statutes of limitations in New York.
Governor Cuomo said this legislation extending the statute of limitations provides the opportunity to hold sexual offenders accountable and get them off the streets.
Several lawsuits filed this year show that the change is already yielding results.
Lawsuit Filed Against Yonkers Middle School Teacher
One of the most recent lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act was by John Fuoco of Westchester. In the last week of October, he filed a lawsuit alleging that his shop teacher Daniel Vassallo sexually abused him when he was in seventh and eighth grade.
Fuoco attended Emerson Middle School, now called Cross Hill Academy, in the 1970s. According to court documents, Vassello invited male students to gatherings at his home and encouraged them to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. When Fuoco was in the seventh grade, he said he attended those gatherings. When he was alone with his teacher, he said he was forced to perform sexual acts. He also stated that Vassello took him out for dinner and gave him money as an incentive to come back.
The abuse occurred about a dozen times over two years, Fuoco said. He also thinks the other boys who attended the gatherings were abused. Although Yonkers Public School District admitted that they aware of the gatherings at the teacher’s home, they did not want to comment about the allegations or the ongoing case.
Lawsuits Against Rabbi Interrupted by COVID-19 Death
Multiple individuals accused Rabbi Joel Kolko of molesting them about 50 years ago when they were students at Yeshiva Torah Teminah in Brooklyn. Two of those students were six years old at the time.
The school agreed to settle for a total of $2.1 million. However, the abuse survivors stopped receiving payments from the settlement, and their lawyers had to file a judgment for the $1 million still owed to them.
After the Child Victims Act passed, more people filed lawsuits against Kolko for sexual assault while they were students. According to these lawsuits, the yeshiva covered up multiple allegations of pedophilia and even threatened the victims’ families when they complained about the sexual offenses.
The rabbi was diagnosed with COVID-19 while he was visiting Israel. According to the school’s attorney Avi Moskowitz, he was on a ventilator and ultimately died from the virus. There are still three lawsuits pending. With Kolko’s death, it’s unclear how these cases will end. However, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers says he’s positive that they will prove what happened and the sexual abuse survivors will receive the justice they deserve.
Details on the Extended Window for NY Sex Abuse Victims
If you want to file a civil lawsuit in New York, you must adhere to a three-year statute of limitations, which means you only have three years from the abuse date to seek monetary compensation. If you want to pursue criminal charges, there’s a five-year statute of limitations you must follow. That isn’t much time to find an experienced attorney, initiate a case, and collect all the necessary evidence to prove your claim — especially if the abuse occurred when you were a child.
Many people don’t see their day in court because they feel ashamed about what happened to them or aren’t ready to talk about their experience. By the time they can face their abuser, the deadline has already passed.
The provisions included in the Child Victims Act are as follows:
- One-year lookback window expiring on August 14, 2020, to pursue legal action for crimes that already reached the state’s statute of limitations
- File a civil lawsuit before turning 55 years old
- Survivors can press charges for felony offenses until they turn 28-years old
- Survivors can press charges for misdemeanor offenses until they turn 25-years old
- File civil claims against private and public institutions
Coronavirus Pandemic Leads to Extensions for Lookback Window
After COVID-19, many states implemented quarantine orders and restrictions on the public.
At the beginning of the pandemic, courthouses throughout New York closed, and many stopped accepting new cases. This significantly impacted those given a second chance of pursuing lawsuits and criminal cases against sex abusers. With court proceedings coming to a halt, Governor Cuomo decided it was necessary to extend the lookback window to January 14, 2021.
COVID-19 is still here, and many people lost precious time retaining legal representation and initiating their claims. Cuomo and state legislators decided they needed to push back the deadline yet again. Passage of a new bill on August 3 extended the lookback window to August 14, 2021. This provides more time for individuals who were sexually abused as children to file lawsuits and face their abusers in court.
Contact Hach & Rose, LLP Today
If you or a loved one is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Hach & Rose, LLP is here to help. Your abuser should have to answer for their actions. Our dedicated team will thoroughly review your case to determine the best course of action. We have the resources to obtain relevant evidence and prove your allegations.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we have more than 30 years of experience pursuing complex cases and will work hard to reach a positive outcome for you.
You have suffered long enough. We will fight by your side every day of your case to ensure you’re able to move forward with your life. To find out more about our legal services and how we can help you with your case, call 646-685-8045. We will be happy to meet you for a free consultation.