In recent years, more instances of sexual abuse of children by priests, teachers, and others in positions of authority have come to light, prompting victims and families to demand changes to existing laws. This, coupled with a public that has demanded justice for child sex abuse survivors as well as harsher penalties against the abusers, led New York to pass the Child Victim Act. In doing so, it is now easier for victims of child sexual abuse to sue their abusers.
Silence and Shame
By many estimates, experts believe less than 20 percent of all child sexual abuse victims ever come forward with their stories. As a result, they spend much of their lives suffering in silence, secrecy, and shame, knowing their abusers are getting by with a crime for which they will never be punished. Whether it was sexual abuse from a trusted Catholic priest, school teacher, coach, or other person in an authority position, the predators knew it was likely their crimes would never be exposed to the public. However, with the passage of the Child Victim Act, this is no longer the case.
Under the previous laws of New York State, children who were victims of sexual abuse by priests or others could not press charges against their abuser once the victim turned 23 years of age. Because of this, most sexual abuse cases went unreported, allowing sexual predators to continue their abuse for many more years. However, as more revelations have been brought forward in recent years, lawmakers have chosen to tip the scales of justice in favor of the abuse victims.
New Law Details
With the passage of this new legislation, child sex abuse survivors now have a much easier path to seeing their abusers receive the punishment they deserve. As of now, the age limit for child sex abuse survivors to press charges against their abuser has increased from 23 years of age to 55 years of age. Along with this, the law has also created a 12-month window for all past victims who were sexually abused as children, regardless of their age, to now come forward and bring a lawsuit against their abuser as well as the institution for which they worked.
Additional Legal Rights
In the past, many victims of child sexual abuse were told they had few if any legal rights to make their perpetrator be held accountable for the sexual abuse they inflicted on the victim. But thanks to the passage of this law, a child sexual abuse lawyer can now work with a victim to ensure justice is indeed served.
Don’t Hesitate to Come Forward
If as a child you were the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest, teacher, or other person in a position of authority over you, do not hesitate to come forward and tell your story. With the passage of the Child Victim Act, an experienced and knowledgeable child sexual abuse lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve.