Child sexual abuse remains a serious problem in the United States. No matter how many high-profile cases draw media attention, the public often remains shocked. Persons accused of sex crimes may face significant criminal charges in New York courts. Sometimes, civil actions follow as plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for claims of sexual abuse. Recently, news broke about claims filed against the Diocese of Rochester. The volume of claims exceeds 500, and the legal claims may seek a significant monetary compensation amount.
The specific number of claims is 503, and the Diocese of Rochester recently filed bankruptcy due to the costs associated with the claims. Initial estimates pointed to claims numbering 250-300, but the final amount turned out to be much higher. Besides the 503 filing current claims, 30 other people settled with the Diocese in the recent past.
However, future claims become affected by the limitations found in New York’s Child Victims Act. The ability to file any legal claims against the Diocese ended on August 13, 2020. The Child Victims Act became law on August 14, 2019. The law extended the statute of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse. This way, victims of sexual abuse as children could take legal action many years after the incidents occurred.
Continued hope for victims
In early August 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that extended the “look back window” to file claims to August 14, 2021. Cuomo hopes the legislation will continue to provide victims with “their day in court.”
The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time available to file criminal charges or file a civil suit. Once the statute of limitations expires, no action may occur. That said, there are exceptions, as evidenced by New York Child Victims Act sex abuse claims law.