New York Lawmakers Consider Adult Survivors Act

The Adult Survivors Act would revive expired lawsuits for adult victims of sexual assault in New York. If made law, countless survivors may obtain justice.

New York Lawmakers Consider Adult Survivors Act

In October 2019, Senator Brad Hoylman introduced the Adult Survivors Act (ASA). Similar to New York’s Child Victims Act, the ASA would open a revival period for time-barred civil lawsuits. 

During the ASA’s revival window, adult victims of sexual violence with expired claims would have a renewed chance to sue their abusers and any responsible organizations. This window would open six months after the bill is passed.

On January 11, 2022, legislators in the New York Senate Judiciary Committee passed the ASA. Next, it must be approved by the New York Senate and State Assembly. If signed into law, the ASA could bring justice within reach for countless adult sexual abuse survivors.

New York’s Adult Survivors Act

The ASA came about, in part, as a response to the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. Multiple victims were legally adults when the sexual abuse occurred. However, their abuse did not come to light until the statute of limitations had passed. This left many adult victims with limited legal options.

A statute of limitations (SOL) is a legal deadline. SOLs vary based on the jurisdiction, the crime and the intended legal action (i.e., criminal charges versus a civil claim).

In 2019, former Governor Cuomo signed Senate Bill S6574 (S6574) into law. This bill extended the New York statute of limitations on sexual crimes. The new law gave adult victims 20 years to file a civil lawsuit. But, it was not a retroactive measure. Under the new statute set in place by S6574, those with time-barred cases were still unable to take legal action. 

In response, Senator Brad Hoylman introduced the ASA to build on past legislative successes by giving similar legal options to more survivors.

“For too long, justice has been out of reach for adult survivors of sexual crimes […] they deserve our support whenever they decide they are ready to pursue justice.”

Senator Brad HoylmanThe New York State Senate

It is not uncommon for survivors to delay reporting their abuse, regardless of when it occurred. They may feel pressured by social stigma, or even their abuser, to stay silent. It may also take years for a survivor to come to terms with the crimes done to them. By the time they are ready to come forward, the opportunity to hold their abuser accountable may have passed. 

The ASA aims to rectify this by opening a one-year “look back” window. During this period, survivors who were adults at the time of their abuse would be able to file a civil lawsuit regardless of when the sexual offense took place. 

Countless survivors stand to benefit from the ASA. Adult victims of rideshare assault, food delivery assault and church sexual abuse would also have a revived chance at justice and compensation.

New York’s Child Victim Act

The ASA follows in the footsteps of the Child Victims Act (CVA). Signed into law in February of 2019, the CVA opened a one-year “look back” window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The original window was extended in 2020 following COVID-19-related court closures. It closed on August 14, 2021.

During the three-year period, thousands of child sex abuse lawsuits were filed. For example, survivors filed more than 9,000 church sex abuse lawsuits in that time. Many of these survivors have received compensation through settlements. Several New York dioceses also declared bankruptcy as a result of these lawsuits.

Many Adult Victims May See Justice

The ASA now awaits approval from the Senate and State Assembly. If passed, the bill will be sent to New York’s governor to be vetoed or signed into law. 

For many victims, seeing their abusers and the responsible organizations held accountable is a crucial step towards healing. Should the ASA become state law, many survivors of adult sexual abuse across New York may finally have their day in court.

If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault or a serious physical assault, you may have legal rights. Our team of attorneys is here to help you seek justice against predators and the organizations that cover up or ignore your abuse. Learn more about your legal options, the claims process and potential compensation.

Request a free, confidential abuse case evaluation by calling or sending a message through our secure contact form.

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