In New York alone, hundreds of clergy members have been accused of sexually abusing children within the past few decades. There have even been lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, as WIVT/WBGH reports. These allegations are just a few out of many that reveal the large-scale sexual abuse that has been happening in many churches across the United States for quite some time now.
If a church elder sexually abused you or your loved one and you want justice, you can reach out to a Binghamton clergy abuse lawyer. They may advise you that you have the right to take legal action and pursue compensation, even for appalling acts you suffered years ago. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 219-9622 to discuss your case and learn more about your legal options.
What the New York Child Victims Act Means for Sexual Abuse Victims
Before February 2019, people who experienced sexual abuse as children could not initiate a claim due to time limitations. As is typical with these kinds of situations, it can be years before victims recover from trauma and find the courage to take legal action. The statute of limitations would have passed by then, leaving survivors without a way to seek justice.
Today, the passing of the Child Victims Act in New York gives people who suffered sexual abuse as children a chance to seek justice. The surge of sex abuse claims immediately following the new law’s enactment highlights the extent of the problem, according to an Associated Press article.
It is seldom easy to confront an abuser when you are young. The Child Victims Act gives those who were traumatized as a child a chance to file lawsuits even after decades have passed. Essentially, the new law abolishes the old statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases and expands other legal protections for victims.
Extension of the Legal Deadline
Victims can now file civil and criminal charges against sexual abusers for a significantly longer period than before. Previously, survivors had to file their civil claims within one to five years after turning age 18. This meant they needed to bring a case before they turn 23. Thanks to the Child Victims Act, the statute of limitations for filing civil claims will not expire until sexual assault survivors are beyond 55 years of age. Those who are not ready to pursue legal avenues before they are 23 now have more time to seek financial recovery.
Similar to the filing of civil claims, the statute of limitations for criminal charges became longer. In the past, victims must file misdemeanor charges before they reach age 20 and felony charges before they reach 23 years of age. With the Child Victims Act, survivors can file misdemeanor charges before 25 years of age and felony charges until 28 years of age.
Do not wait before discussing your case with a Binghamton clergy abuse lawyer to know more about the new maximum time for initiating legal proceedings. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for a free consultation. We can answer your questions and advise you of the steps you can take next in your situation.
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An important part of the Child Victim Act relevant to civil cases is the lookback window. This law allows victims to file a claim regardless of their age during the abuse and despite being previously unable to do so under the old law. However, the lookback period gives you only until August 14, 2021, to file your expired lawsuit, according to New York State’s website. Consider seeking the counsel of a Binghamton clergy abuse lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your case.
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Removal of the Notice of Claim Requirement
Under the Child Victim Act, you can file a lawsuit against public and private institutions who have been negligent or involved in your abuse. There is no need for you to comply with the requirement of filing a Notice of Claim ahead of starting your case for sex offenses. You can sue your abuser, a church, a school, an employer, and other entities who did not prevent or stop the abuse.
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Understanding Your Right to Take Legal Action
Every case is unique, and the facts surrounding your abuse generally determine whether you are entitled to take legal action. Nevertheless, you have the right to bring to justice those who have done you wrong and are responsible for injuries and losses you suffered. When you move forward with your legal action, not only do you expose grievous misconduct that has no place in any religious setting, but you also keep more people from being victimized.
Bringing a lawsuit can allow you to receive awards for different types of damages you suffered due to sexual abuse. Some examples include:
- Counseling or mental health therapy
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Damage to reputation
Speaking to a Binghamton clergy abuse lawyer can help you understand how eligibility and other related laws work in your circumstances.
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Proving Sexual Assault
Aside from filing a civil lawsuit against your abuser, it may also be possible to hold the religious institution responsible for hiring or monitoring your abuser. You can establish negligence by presenting evidence that shows the following:
- Concealment of sex abuse incidents
- Negligent supervision
- Failure to properly investigate sexual misconduct allegations
- Failure to maintain and implement proper procedures
- Failure to perform a careful background check
One of the main challenges you may have in your case is providing proof that a clergy member abused you. It can be difficult to gather evidence apart from records of related injuries. However, you can still strengthen your claim by demonstrating that the diocese or institution in charge of your abuser is also liable for wrongful actions that took place.
As in any other workplace situation, an employer may also be legally responsible for employees’ actions during the scope of their occupation. In other words, the church can also be liable for not taking steps to prevent sex abuses despite their knowledge about previous or present allegations.
We Defend the Rights of Those Who Have Suffered Silently
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm knows the scar of sexual abuse can last a lifetime. We understand all too well that shame and guilt naturally accompany traumatic experiences. If you speak with a Binghamton clergy abuse lawyer, rest assured your case is handled with sensitivity and compassion. Please do not hesitate to call us at (800) 219-9622 to get started on your confidential case review and hear more about your legal rights.