Flood of lawsuits expected as window opens for adult survivors to sue in New York for sexual abuse | CNN

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New York

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Adult survivors of sexual abuse can now sue their abusers in New York — even after the statute of limitations has expired on their claims — under a state law that takes effect Thursday.


The new law gives adult survivors of sexual assault one year to file lawsuits against their perpetrators. It also allows people who were sexually assaulted at work or under their care, such as a hospital or prison, to sue that institution, said Doug Vigdor, the attorney who helped push the legislation.

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Vigdor said, “I think there will be some very interesting cases that will come out in employment cases where powerful men, who were supervising women or were taking care of women, sexually harassed them and they are their perpetrators.” Will be able to hold accountable.” , who represented women who testified against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose rape and criminal sex act convictions were upheld in New York this year.

The new window to sue in New York gives adult sexual assault survivors who may not have been able to process more time to seek recourse, says Jane Manning, a former sex crime prosecutor and now head of the Women’s Equal Justice Project. are prominent. State.

The measure mirrors the 2019 Child Victims Act that temporarily extended New York’s statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases for two years, yielding about 11,000 lawsuits, said Lucian Chalfen, a spokeswoman for the New York State Office of Court Administration. Told.

“Sexual assault is a highly traumatic crime. The trauma itself takes time to process,” Manning said. “Add to that the fact that our culture has instilled in many of us rape myths about what real rape looks like that is not real sex that happens in real life. Attacks don’t match.

“Because of that, there are survivors who don’t even recognize what happened to them as sexual assault until some time has passed. And there’s a lot of self-blame to contend with, even if that self-blame isn’t entirely be unfair,” she said.

Manning said it is important to give adult sexual assault survivors the opportunity to seek recourse through the civil justice system, as they are often failed by the criminal justice system.

“Too often in the criminal justice system, we still have a lot of prosecutors who refuse to take sex crime cases to trial because they think they will be difficult to win,” she said. “It is not a good reason to refuse to take a sex crime case to trial. But it is one reason survivors are still hearing from too many prosecutors.

Attorney Adam Slater said separate lawsuits are expected to be filed under the new law on behalf of more than 750 women who have alleged sexual assault in New York state prisons.

“The prisoner-keeper relationship is one of the most extreme power imbalances that exists today,” Slater said. “Under New York state law, a person in correctional custody is legally incapable of consent. Officers and guards in these facilities have an unrivaled arsenal of methods to enforce their will on victims: physical confinement, force, privileges. Restrictions on and total control over their environment.

The New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision “has zero tolerance for sexual abuse, sexual assault and unauthorized relationships,” the agency said in a statement, adding that it “thoroughly investigates all reports of sexual assault, including unauthorized relationships and retaliation against anyone.” does.” Individuals who report incidents or cooperate with those investigations.

“Employees have an affirmative duty to report any knowledge, suspicion or information about an incident of sexual exploitation or sexual harassment and any unauthorized relationship,” it said. “Individuals who violate department rules are disciplined by the department and when there is evidence that a crime was committed, DOCCS refers those cases for criminal prosecution to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

Asked for comment, the New York Attorney General’s Office referred CNN to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

E. Jean Carroll, who sued former President Donald Trump for defamation, said she plans to sue Trump under the New York Adult Survivors Act. Carroll alleged that Trump forced her against a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room wall 27 years ago and sexually assaulted her.

Trump has denied all the allegations against him.

More lawsuits from about 40 more women are expected with new claims against Columbia University gynecologist Dr. Robert Hayden, said attorney Anthony DiPietro, who represented 230 women who were allegedly sexually assaulted by Hayden . About 150 of those cases were settled before the Adult Survivors Act came into force.

Prosecutors have said Hayden is due to go on trial in New York next year on six counts of luring and seducing victims at his medical offices and subjecting them to unlawful sexual abuse; Hayden has pleaded not guilty.

Credit : www.cnn.com

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