As of November 24, the Adult Survivors Act (ASA) went into effect in New York State, allowing survivors of sexual offenses one year to file civil claims for cases that occurred even decades ago. The Adult Survivors Act was signed into law in May and removes the statute of limitations for certain civil claims regarding past sexual offenses between November 24, 2022, and November 24, 2023, regardless of when the alleged crime took place. If you were raped or abused, at or after age 18, anywhere in New York state, at any time, by anyone, you now have a chance to file a civil lawsuit. Yes, no matter who hurt you, or when, or how old you are now, if you were sexually assaulted, fondled, raped, or abused in any way when you were 18 years old or older by anyone in the state of New York, a dramatic change in the law now gives you the opportunity to expose those who hurt you, in a lawsuit. The Adult Survivors Act does not reopen the opportunity for a criminal prosecution, but victims can seek justice through the civil court system. This may sound ‘too good to be true.’ But believe us, it is not.
This MAY be true even if:
- your rapist/molester has died
- your rapist/molester has never been prosecuted
- your rapist/molester has never been publicly exposed
- your rapist/molester has never been prosecuted
- your rapist/molester has never been accused by anyone else
- your rapist/molester is or was a very powerful individual
- your rapist/molester has beaten a charge or suit in a court of law
- your rapist/molester has been deemed ‘exonerated’ by anyone else
- you apparently have no evidence of the crime
- you haven’t ever filed a police report
- you haven’t ever reported the crime to his employer or any other source
- you’ve been told by attorneys before that you have no case
- someone has explained to you that your statute of limitations has expired
- you fear or suspect you won’t be believed
- you’re not interested in money
- it “just happened once” or “it wasn’t that bad”
- you’ve forgiven your rapist/abuser but want to prevent future rape/abuse
How can this be?
It’s possible – or it MAY be possible, in your case – because of the collective strength and courage of survivors who have, in recent years, been increasingly successful in reforming archaic, predator-friendly state laws. Specifically, abuse victims have pushed lawmakers to extend or eliminate tight deadlines by which those who’ve been sexually assaulted must take legal action. (These deadlines are called statutes of limitations.) More specifically, these extensions and eliminations have mostly helped child victims. But in New York and a few other states, they are also helping adult victims. In fact, a New York measure that took effect last November is, in our view, perhaps the best such legal reform in the nation. It’s called the Adult Survivors Act.
Already, the months-old measure had led to civil lawsuits being filed against Donald Trump, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, other high-profile figures, and, of course, predators who are not well known at all. The new law, according to The Gothamist, “allows adult survivors of sexual crimes the chance to sue their attackers or institutions that harbored them regardless of when the offense took place.” CNN explains, “Adult survivors of sexual abuse now can sue their abusers in New York – even if the statute of limitations on their claims has expired. The new law gives adult survivors of sexual assault one year to file lawsuits against their perpetrators.” One expert is quoted as saying that the measure “also allows people who were sexually assaulted at work or in the care of an institution like a hospital or jail to sue that entity.”
We’re going on at some length about this here because it’s such a radical change, and some have a hard time wrapping their heads around it. For decades and decades, virtually every victim of sexual violence has faced a rigid deadline by which she or he must take legal action or be forever shut out of our nation’s courts. Those deadlines, thankfully, are gradually being relaxed or repealed. The margin by which this proposal was passed by legislators is also encouraging. The New York State Assembly approved it by a vote of 140-3, a month after the state Senate approved it unanimously.
Finally, about 25 states across the US have taken similar steps to open the courtroom doors to victims of sexual violence (though mostly for CHILD victims, and few of these new laws are as expansive and inclusive as New York’s law). Solid information about statutes of limitations throughout the nation can be found on the website of a think tank called CHILD USA. That said, we at Horowitz Law caution you: no matter how up-to-date or credible-seeming any website may seem – and no matter what any non-lawyer may tell you – please don’t ever assume your legal options are closed until you first check with not just an attorney, but an attorney who specializes in this evolving, complex arena.
And we at Horowitz Law hope you will tell anyone and everyone you know who has spent any time at all in New York and who may have been hurt there about this unusual chance for healing, justice, and prevention. We urge you to speak up.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse. While nothing can undo the past, our attorneys dedicate their careers to supporting survivors as they move forward in the healing journey. Sexual abuse victims across the country suffer deeply from the violations and betrayals by the people they should have been able to trust the most. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused in New York State, contact our office today. We can help. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or send an email to [email protected] to discuss your options today.