Any Child Abuse Victim Can Sue Now No Matter When It Happened But You Only Have Until March 20, 2020 Under The Special Law.
It is no secret that child sexual abuse and sex trafficking of young people is an epidemic in this country. Every day, new stories emerge telling the tale of a trusted adult taking advantage of a young boy or girl. The victims range in age from infants to seventeen. Many times, these victims are either too young to speak up or are too afraid to tell anyone based on the lies their abusers tell them. Once they have escaped this abuse, they must go through an entire process of healing before they are ready to take action. Until now, many adults who were victims of child sexual abuse were left with no recourse as the statute of limitations expired before they were ever ready to take action. As of February 19, 2019, New York’s Child Victims Act changes this, removing the statute of limitations through August 14, 2020, and then extending it until the victim reaches age 55. Derek Smith Law Group has helped victims of child and adult sexual abuse in New York for twenty-five years take action against their abusers. Now with the new laws in place, we are pleased to be able to help more victims on their schedule, as opposed to the old law’s schedule.
What Is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse is a serious crime that not only physically violates the victim but leaves emotional scars for years to come. In short, child sexual abuse is the act of an adult performing sexual acts on a person who is under the age of eighteen. This may or may not include intercourse. However, sexual abuse is a much broader term that often includes verbal and physical actions of a sexual nature. Any of the following violations can be considered child sexual abuse:
- Possession of Child Pornography
- Taking nude photos or videos of children
- Enabling or forcing a child to perform sexual acts
- Showing a child pornography
- Sexual exploitation
- Voyeurism, including secretly watching others perform sexual acts or watching a child in a sexual way
- Public display of explicit images
- Vaginal or anal penetration with a penis, finger or other objects
- Oral sex
- Touching genitals, breasts, or intimate areas
- Talking about sexually explicit things which are developmentally inappropriate for the child’s age, including sending sexual text messages or emails
What Are the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse?
Victims of child sexual abuse often deal with the effects for many years to come. Many victims struggle with the idea the abuse was somehow their fault and they deserved to be victims. In addition, they often struggle with nightmares, night terrors, severe depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.
These effects can take years to overcome. Victims often spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in therapy trying to gain back their lives. Many times, this results in victims being in their late 30s to early 50s before they are ever ready to discuss their abuse in public, let alone face their abuser again in a court of law.
Who Are the Victims of Child Sexual Abuse and Do They Ever Come Forward?
As of today, there are approximately 73.9 million children between the ages of 0 to 17 years of age. It is estimated that about 1.8 million of those children are or have been the victim of sexual abuse. To look deeper into the victims of sexual abuse, 60% of those children are abused by a trusted person that is NOT a family member. This means the perpetrators are clergy members, teachers, family friends, coaches, babysitters, parents of their friends, doctors, and other trusted people in the child’s life. Another interesting statistic is only 30% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to the proper authorities.
What Are the Rights of Child Sexual Abuse Victims?
Child sexual abuse victims are entitled to justice. However, until now, the statute of limitations in New York only allowed them to come forward in civil court until age twenty-three. According to Child USA, most victims of child sexual abuse do not even come forward until age 52. By then, the statute of limitations had long run out.
Under the Child Victims Act, which went into effect on August 14, 2019, child sexual abuse victims in New York can bring an action in civil court up until the victim reaches the age of 55. However, through August 2020, all victims of sexual abuse who have been told they did not have a case under the original statute of limitations guidelines, regardless of age, can file a civil lawsuit against their abuser in New York courts.
Furthermore, the statute of limitations for criminal actions will not even begin to run until the victim is 23 years old. Prior to passing this act, the victim of child sexual abuse was forced to file charges between the ages of 18 and 23. Now the five-year statute of limitations begins to take effect at age 23, giving the minor a few years to come to terms with his or her reality before facing his or her abuser in a court of law.
Who Are the Most Common Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse?
Unfortunately, the most common perpetrators of child sexual abuse in New York are the people that a child most trusts. These individuals typically groom a child to accept what they are doing as normal behavior and have the ability to influence a child’s outlook on everything, including the abuse they are committing. These perpetrators, in most cases, can be any of the following:
- Religious leaders
- Boy Scout leaders
- Priests or Clergy
- Family members such as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.
- Daycare providers and employees
- Healthcare professionals, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, etc.
- Society influencers, such as celebrities, business leaders, government officials, etc.
Who Are the Accomplices that Contribute to the Culture of Child Sexual Abuse?
Society, as a whole, needs to do a better job at protecting children from sexual abuse. However, there are times in which the perpetrator of the abuse should not be the only person or entity to be included as a defendant in the case. Sometimes, an institution, as a whole, will continue to cover up and cover for abusers. Institutions, such as a school, religious institution, or anywhere in which an entity is considered responsible for the actions of its employees and volunteers, may also be included as a defendant in a lawsuit, especially if they did nothing to prevent this type of incident from happening, or worse, did nothing to stop it from continuing. Other types of entities which may be included in the lawsuit filed under the Child Victims Act may include:
- Property owners who do not hire security as requested or required
- Other adults who did not supervise as expected
- A professional reporter who did not report the abuse
- Any agency or government entity that did not respond to reports of suspected abuse
- Any accomplice to the act that aided and encouraged the act to continue.
What Type of Justice in Criminal Court Is Typically Available to Child Sexual Abuse Victims in New York?
Forcing your abuser to stand trial for his or her crimes against you as a victim of child sexual abuse is an amazing vindication for the torture and torment any victim often feels. However, a court of law is about more than a feeling of vindication. In order for justice to be served, the courts will hand down a sentence in criminal court and judgment in civil court. In New York, a person found guilty of child sexual abuse in the first degree will receive a class D felony conviction which brings a prison sentence of 2 to 7 years. A person found guilty of sexual abuse in the 2nd degree receives a class A misdemeanor conviction which includes a sentence in prison of up to a year and fines of $1,000. Sexual assault in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor which includes a punishment of up to three months in jail and up to a $500 fine if convicted. Finally, aggravated assault in the 1st degree is a class B felony. This conviction includes a prison sentence of 5 to 25 years. Child sexual assault is typically included in the category of sexual assault in the first degree, much like other forms of rape.
What Type of Compensation is Available in Civil Court to Victims of Child Sexual Abuse in New York?
Civil Compensation is designed to “make victims whole.” Therefore, there are monetary values placed on the suffering of victims of child sexual abuse. Civil courts will work to award a monetary value to help repay a number of expenses resulting from being a victim of child sexual abuse, such as:
- Medical bills
- Therapy and counseling
- Loss of income
- Stolen or damaged property
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (money awarded by the courts to simply punish the perpetrator)
Civil damages can be awarded even if no criminal case is ever filed or if the perpetrator is found not guilty of the crime.
What Resources Are Available for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse?
In order to move on from the effects of child sexual abuse and help justice prevail, victims must first heal. New York, as well as the US as a whole, has wonderful resources to help victims of child sexual abuse heal from this horrific ordeal and get their life back as they deserve. If you or a loved one has been the victim of child sexual abuse in New York, please reach out to anyone of these helpful organizations to help you move forward to the life you deserve.
- New York Office of Victims Services. This office helps victims find advocates, crime scene investigators, and other resources to help victims come forward and report their experience.
- Lauren’s Kids. This organization helps victims of child sexual abuse heal through guidance and education.
- Rainn. Rainn is a national helpline that helps all victims of sexual abuse by providing trained individuals to listen to the victim’s stories and help them get the help they need to move forward.
- Darkness to Light. This resource is a wonderful website that can help you find the organization, therapists, and help you need to heal from child sexual abuse.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. This network helps the child deal with the trauma the sexual abuse has caused through evaluation and therapy.
- Stop It Now. This is a resource that points adult survivors of child sexual abuse to an organization that can help them begin to heal.
These are some of the many resources available to victims of child sexual abuse. The goal is to help the victims begin the long process of moving on from the abuse.
Contact Our Experienced New York City Child Sexual Abuse Attorneys
Now we would like to hear from you. Is there something we missed? Do you have questions about the New York Child Victims Act? Did you have questions about anything not mentioned here? Maybe you have a case now that the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse has changed in New York. We would love to hear from you and answer your questions or see how we can help you. Please fill out the free contact form or call us and one of our experienced child sexual abuse attorneys will be happy to provide a free consultation. We do not get paid until we win your case.