New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill on May 24, 2022, allowing adult victims of sexual crimes in New York to file civil lawsuits against their attackers and against “institutions that harbored them,” regardless of when the offense took place.
The law opens a one-year window and temporarily lifts the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits related to sex offenses perpetrated on someone who was at least 18 years of age. It also provides that cases that had previously been dismissed as time-barred or on some other technical procedural grounds are revived and can now be refiled. The new law follows the similar Child Victims Act, which was signed into law in 2019, and has led to the filing of thousands of lawsuits by those survivors who claim to have been abused as children that were barred by the statute of limitations.
The clock will begin to run at the end of November of this year. As such, plaintiffs will have until November of 2023 to file suit. Cases filed under this new law will be given special trial preference, meaning that they will be called for trial before other civil cases.
The bill applies to anything classified as a “sex offense” under state law, including misdemeanor forcible touching to first-degree rape. It also applies to crimes of incest.
The bill received broad bipartisan support, passing the New York Assembly by a vote of 140-3.
Airdo Werwas will provide ongoing updates regarding this new law and its expected impact on those institutions that have done and continue to work with and minister to those in New York.