Law

A Look at the Adult Survivors Act Waiting for Passage in the New York Legislature

The Catholic Church has been covering up the misconduct of its clergy for decades instead of disciplining them and turning them over to the authorities. An unknown number of adults in New York were victimized by priests that they would not have come into contact with had the Roman Catholic Church done the right thing.

In 2019, the New York Child Victims Act was passed, allowing victims to retain a New York clergy abuse attorney in pursuit of damages against the Catholic Church. However, the act expired in 2021 and the statute of limitations returned to a one-year period. Many victims lost the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit because they weren’t aware of the act. Now a bill has been partially passed to permanently stop the statute of limitations for all victims of sexual abuse.

The Child Victims Act Opened Up Opportunities for Victims to Get Justice

The New York Child Victims Act (CVA) lifted the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit against clergy members who engaged in sexual abuse. It builds upon the Child Victims Act that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse for a period of two years. Thousands of victims moved to file against the Catholic Church and their abusive clergy, but the arrival of Coronavirus made it difficult for many to take action.

The CVA was extended by a few months due to pandemic-related issues. However, it’s estimated that thousands weren’t able to file even with the extension. Once the act expired in 2021, the original statute of limitations was reinstated and barred further lawsuits. Now there’s pending legislation to lift the statute for survivors of sexual abuse known as the Adult Survivors Act. It’s been partially passed and offers renewed hope for victims of sexual abuse by clergy members. 

The Adult Survivors Act (ASA) Would Allow the Pursuit of Justice for Some Victims of Sexually Abusive Clergy

The Adult Survivors Act sets aside the one-year limit outlined in the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims. However, it has yet to be enacted as it’s only passed the state Senate and is stalled in the New York State Assembly. Sexual abuse survivors who were previously barred from filing due to the statute of limitations, or were unable to file during the window of time provided by the CVA, will be able to file a lawsuit against their perpetrators if the legislation is passed.

The ASA would allow victims to file a civil lawsuit within one year provided they were 18 years or older when they were sexually assaulted. The legislation is aimed at people who were legal adults at the time the abuse occurred. Abusive clergy members didn’t always restrict themselves to children, and the ASA gives those victims the right to sue within one year after the legislation becomes active. Passage of the act is not guaranteed, but if it is passed, many clergy sexual abuse victims can seek justice that was previously denied to them.

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