More than 160 new child sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court since a one-year window allowing survivors to move forward with decades-old claims went into effect under the recently passed New York Child Victims Act.
The one-year filing window opened on August 14th. Fifty-five Child Victims Act Lawsuits were filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on the first day, with the number of claims growing to 168 since then.
More than 1,176 cases have been filed in New York Supreme Court statewide, with only Manhattan (258 cases) and Erie County (288 cases) reporting more filings than Brooklyn.
The New York Child Victims Act became law in February, and greatly extended the statute of limitations for filing criminal or civil claims against accused child sexual abusers, as well as any public or private institution that may have enabled wrongful conduct.
In addition to the one-year window allowing victims to file civil lawsuits regardless of how long ago their alleged abuse occurred, the new law also:
Last month, an administrative law judge in New York City ruled that plaintiffs filing Child Victims Act lawsuits can remain anonymous to the public, a development that drew praise from survivors and their advocates.
“I was very nervous and very concerned that, if the judge had gone against us, survivors would be deterred from using the law,” one attorney told the Albany Times-Union. “Now that this decision — which has statewide implications — has been made, it really is a major step in protecting the survivors.
However, the Child Victims Act does have its detractors, including the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, which recently challenged the law in Nassau Superior Court. The Diocese has been hit with more than 20 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits since the one-year filing window opened in August.
“As part of its commitment to caring for these survivors, the diocese must and will make every effort to ensure that all survivors have access to those monies, including by taking necessary legal measures,” an official statement read. “Available resources should be deployed in a manner that compensates all survivors fairly.”