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New NY Law Allows Sex Assault Victim Suits Over Abuse Years Ago

A new New York law allowing sexual assault victims to sue over long-ago abuse will be in effect starting Thursday, reports the Associated Press. The law is expected to permit allegations against prison guards, middle managers, doctors, and a few prominent figures including former President Trump. For one year, the state will waive normal deadlines for filing lawsuits over sex crimes, enabling survivors to seek compensation for assaults that happened years or even decades ago. Advocates say the Adult Survivors Act is an important step in the national reckoning over sexual misconduct and could provide a measure of justice to people who may have needed time to come forward due to trauma, embarrassment, or fear of retaliation. The law is modeled after the state’s Child Victims Act, which opened a two-year window in 2019 during which almost 11,000 people sued churches, hospitals, schools, camps, scout groups, and other institutions over the abuse they said they suffered as children.

New York will begin accepting electronic filings on Thanksgiving Day, six months after the law was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul. Lawyers say they have been getting calls from people considering lawsuits, mostly women. “I think there will be a lot of women who will say, ‘I think that’s me. Because I think what happened at that Christmas party in 1998 wasn’t right. And I couldn’t tell anybody about it at the time.’ And they want to tell somebody about it,” said attorney Jeanne Christensen. Legal action has already been promised on behalf of hundreds of women who say they were sexually abused while serving sentences at state prisons. Other cases could come from college students assaulted by professors, athletes abused by coaches, or workers assaulted by bosses. In addition to the high-profile claims, there will be “many, many more” cases that don’t get publicity, said Liz Roberts of the victim assistance nonprofit Safe Horizon. Roberts said that for many survivors, just telling their story can be healing. “I’m just finding my voice, and I’m learning how powerful that can be,” said Laurie Maldonado, one of the scores of women who say they were molested during examinations by New York City gynecologist Robert Hadden.


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