The Center for Youth, a Rochester-based non-profit that provides a variety of services to at-risk teens, is the latest institution facing a child sex abuse lawsuit under the New York Child Victims Act.
The unidentified plaintiff claims he was molested by a Center for Youth employee in 1991, when he was just 15-years-old. The complaint was filed in Monroe County last week, and asserts that other children were abused as well.
“Obviously, allegations involving young people have to be taken seriously, but we have no information about an incident that occurred almost 30 years ago, Center for Youth executive director Elaine Spaull told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
Spaull joined the Center for Youth in 2001, a decade after the alleged abuse occurred.
The New York Child Victims Act became law last February, following more than a decade of resistance from the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, and other powerful institutions. One of the Act’s most important provisions opened a one-year window in which adult survivors can file civil lawsuits against their abusers and the institutions that enabled their conduct, regardless of how long ago the alleged acts occurred.
The lawsuit against the Center for Youth in Rochester is just one of hundreds of previously time-barred claims filed in New York state courts since that window officially opened on August 14th. While the majority of cases name Roman Catholic Dioceses or the Boy Scouts as defendants, a growing number allege abuse at the hands of teachers, pediatricians, coaches, and in at least one case, a baby sitter.
The New York Child Victims Act also permanently extended the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in cases of child sexual abuse until a survivor’s 55th birthday, while the deadline for pursing felony criminal charges was extended until the victim’s 28th birthday.
According to Child USA, 17 other states and Washington, D.C. all have laws going into effect this year that either extend or abolish the time period in which child sexual abuse victims can sue or seek criminal charges against their abusers.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that major insurers are bracing for a flood of new child sexual abuse lawsuits. Travelers Insurance, for example, increased its reserves in the first quarter by around $50 million to $100 million in response to the New York Child Victims Act’s passage.
“If more states enact, we would react accordingly,” Travelers chief financial officer Daniel Frey said during an earnings call last April. “It’s an ongoing issue in a number of states that we’re keeping an eye on.”