If you suffered sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, a New York clergy abuse lawyer can guide you through the state’s new Child Victims Act, which turns back the clock for civil lawsuits against the church. These rules change several important aspects of how sexual abuse by clergy can be pursued in civil and criminal courts.
Some of the new rules are time-sensitive. Call a member of our team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today, so we can hear about your case and inform you of your options for demanding compensation for your losses.
Call (800) 219-9622 for a free, confidential, no-obligation case review.
New York’s Child Victims Act
The Child Victims Act (NY Senate Bill S2440) became law in February 2019 under the signature of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. This legislation pulled the rug out from under clergy and their churches, who long enjoyed the upper hand in civil matters pertaining to sexual abuse. The bill also affects how these offenders can be criminally charged for their abusive acts.
It all relates to timing, a factor that used to work against child sexual abuse victims. Keep in mind, however, that some of the legislative changes are time-sensitive. The sooner victims begin their legal actions against the clergy who abused them, the more likely they will be able to meet the deadlines associated with elements of the Child Victims Act.
Three Changes to Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse
New York’s Child Victims Act comprises three changes that dramatically impact civil claims against the church for the sexual abuse offenses of their clergy.
Suspended Statute of Limitations
The Child Victims Act opened a one-year window in which any victim of child sex abuse could sue their abuser in civil court. As plaintiffs in these lawsuits, victims can also sue the institution—the church, for example—that facilitated or covered up the abuse.
If you suffered sexual abuse by the New York clergy, it understandably might have taken you years to decide to hold your abuser and the church liable for your injuries. If you are like many victims, by the time you were old enough and healed enough to take this step, the statute of limitations for this type of action had expired, thereby barring you from suing.
The lookback window temporarily lifts the barring in any case—no matter how old it is, but you must file your lawsuit by August 14, 2020.
Consult with a lawyer today so they can get to work on gathering your evidence, building your case, and filing your lawsuit.
Victims Can Take Legal Action Until They Are 55
Before the Child Victims Act, victims of sexual abuse had to abide by the state’s narrowly defined statute of limitations. They were required to file their lawsuits against the church and the abusive clergy between one and five years from the date their abuse occurred.
This all changes with the 2019 legislation. Now, victims of sexual abuse by the church can file a lawsuit up until their 55th birthdays.
Both Public and Private Institutions Can Be Sued
Typically, when an individual wants to sue a government entity, such as a public school, in New York, they were required to file a notice of claim with the municipality or government body being sued. It made the already difficult process of filing a lawsuit even more complicated and successfully caused the court to dismiss many cases from victims who simply did not know the rules or did not abide by them in the time constraints.
The Child Victim’s Act now enables victims of sexual assault to file a lawsuit against public institutions without first filing a notice of claim.
New Rules Help to Criminally Charge Sexual Abusers
The statutes of limitations have also been changed when it comes to filing criminal charges against the priest or other clergy member who committed the abuse. Victims of this type of abuse now have until the day of their 28th birthday to press felony charges. They can file misdemeanor charges up until the victims’ 25th birthday. This gives victims five more years to hold their abusers criminally responsible.
Your Church May Try to Settle Your Case Out of Court
The Archdiocese of New York implemented an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP)—a step in the state’s Catholic churches’ efforts to make amends for past sexual abuse of children. The IRCP aims to “promote healing and bring closure to victim-survivors of abuse by priests or deacons of the archdiocese.”
The Archbishop of New York appoints a mediator who works to reach settlements with these victims. Any settlement agreements are made on the condition that victims will not sue the diocese at a later date.
Consider hiring a New York clergy abuse lawyer to represent you during this mediation process. A lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can stand by your side and negotiate on your behalf toward getting the compensation you deserve. If needed, we can also take your case to trial.
Call us today for a free consultation.
Let Us Help You in Your Pursuit of Long-Awaited Justice
You have waited long enough to hold the church accountable for the sexual abuse you endured from the clergy. Now that you have found your voice, let a New York clergy abuse lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm make sure that voice is heard. The courts are listening now, and you have the opportunity to get closure for the injuries you suffered.
Keep in mind that New York’s “lookback window” closes on August 14, 2020. This does not change, however, the new statutes of limitations, which exist as permanent parts of New York statutes.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622, so we can pursue your clergy sexual abuse claim with urgent priority.