Bill aims to open window for adult sex abuse lawsuits

ALBANY, N.Y. — Churches, youth groups and schools were hit by a tsunami of lawsuits in 2019 after New York gave survivors of childhood sexual abuse a one-year window to sue over allegations ordinarily barred by statutes of limitation.

Now, some lawmakers want to open the same window for people abused as adults, a move that could lay a pathway for people to file additional lawsuits against some high-profile men targeted in the #MeToo movement.

Sen. Brad Hoylman introduced the Adult Survivors Act this autumn, saying survivors of adult sex abuse deserve their day in court.

“For too long, justice has been out of reach for adult survivors of sexual crimes,” Hoylman said in a statement.

The proposal would give abuse victims a temporary, one-year period to sue over abuse that occurred when they were 18 years or older. After the year window was up, the state statute of limitations would be back in effect.

New York is one of 15 states where rules have been enacted to extend or suspend the statute of limitations for certain past claims. The Child Victims Act has led to hundreds of lawsuits filed by people who say they were abused as children but were previously barred from suing.

With child sex abuse survivors being able to sue, supporters say a “lookback” window for people assaulted as adults is a matter of fairness.

“Why are they not entitled to seek justice?” said Marissa Hoechstetter, an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse, noting that lawsuits allow people to seek justice if criminal prosecution is not feasible.

The legislation is expected to be con...

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