Learn How the New York Child Victims Act Helped an Adult Obtain Justice from Child Sexual Abuse Suffered Over 30 Years Ago.
The Supreme Court of the State of New York County of Nassau found in favor of a victim of child sexual abuse under the New York Child Victims Act. The court ordered the defendant to pay $15 million for his acts of child sexual abuse against the plaintiff, which she suffered over thirty years ago.
This decision sends a message to people in New York and the United States that no one is above the law and that child sexual abuse and child sexual assault are not tolerated and are punishable by the highest extent allowed by law.
Read on to learn about the case and how Danilo Bandovic, sexual assault attorney at the Derek Smith Law Group, helped bring justice to a female victim after thirty years of suffering.
The Details of the Case
Our client, Jane Doe (the plaintiff), was eleven years old when the Defendant, her family member, began sexually abusing her. This behavior continued until the plaintiff was between fourteen and fifteen years of age.
The plaintiff kept this abuse private for over 25 years. In her 40s, the plaintiff came forward to her family about the sexual assaults she had been subjected to many years ago when she was a child. Additionally, the defendant had been accused of having child pornography on his computer (unrelated to the acts of child sexual abuse he committed against the plaintiff).
In 2020, the plaintiff saw the opportunity to file civil claims against the defendant under the New York Child Victims Act. She was in her mid-forties old at the time. Throughout all these years, she had suffered extreme panic attacks, depression, anxiety, and other psychological scars. While she could not pursue criminal charges against the defendant, she could find justice in civil court.
On June 20, 2023, the court found in favor of the plaintiff, Jane Doe. The court awarded her $5 million for past pain and suffering, $5 million for future pain and suffering, and $5 million for punitive damages to discourage defendant and others from committing such acts of child sexual assault in the future.
Who Is Jane Doe?
Jane Doe (Plaintiff) experienced a series of traumatic sexual abuse events during her childhood. Despite her immense pain and suffering, she chose to rise above her experiences. She courageously turned her pain into a source of power.
Plaintiff and her family struggled as she turned this trauma into a source of strength. However, she came to turn with the details of her trauma and embraced the hope, resilience, and strength that she was able to pull from it. She worked rigorously through these past experiences with her amazing support system to focus on her personal growth. Through extensive therapy, life and trauma coaching, personal development, and self-care practices, she empowered herself to overcome the negative impact of her past.
With time and effort, she harnessed the strength to move on from her past and used it as a foundation to take on new challenges and help others who have gone through similar experiences. She has become an inspiration and source of hope for many women dealing with childhood sexual trauma. Her journey has been a testament to the power of resilience, healing, and personal growth. She chose to come forward so she could help other survivors of childhood sexual assault find their courage to move past the pain and find the hope and eventual happiness that life can hold as they move forward in life.
What Are the Details of the New York Child Victims Act
The New York Child Victims Act is not the only law of its kind. Similar laws exist across the country, including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and New Jersey, to name a few areas. The law allows adults who suffered child sexual abuse and child sexual assault to hold their abusers accountable until they turn 55. The idea is that victims of child sexual assault are often convinced the assault is their fault. When they finally realize that they are victims and not at fault, they must go through years of therapy and learn that they have nothing to be ashamed of. It can be decades before these individuals ever feel secure enough to report the abuse, let alone face their abuser in court.
Under the law, cases are filed in a special court section that only hears cases under the New York Child Victims Act. Furthermore, all judges in this special court only hear these types of cases and have special training to handle such cases. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure these cases do not get delayed within the legal system and the judges have a complete understanding of the law and the sensitivity needed for such cases. Child Victim’s Act cases have trial preference and are generally scheduled for trial within 12 to 18 months of the filing of a complaint, compared to several years for other claims.
What Are the Child Sexual Abuse Laws in Other States?
As mentioned above, other states have similar laws to the New York Child Victims Act.
- Pennsylvania Child Victims Act allows adults to file civil claims against their abusers until they are age 55.
- New Jersey Child Victims Act allows adults to file civil claims against their abusers until they are age 55.
- The California Child Victims Act allows adults to file civil claims against their abusers until they are age 40, unless there are special circumstances as defined by the law.
- Florida House Bill 525 eliminated the statute of limitations for criminal and civil claims relating to child sexual abuse committed against minors aged 16 or younger.
- Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act is a federal act signed by President Joe Biden that eliminates the statute of limitations for any child sexual assault claim filed in any federal court throughout the United States.
What Can You Do If You or a Loved One Suffered Sexual Assault as a Child?
Most states throughout the United States have laws that protect the rights of adults ready to come forward with claims of child sexual abuse. While their abusers may not see jail time under these laws, many survivors of child sexual assault can obtain a monetary award in civil court. Therefore, if you or a loved one suffered child sexual abuse, contact a sexual assault lawyer who can help them file a claim under the laws in their state.
It is important to remember that even in cases in which the trial dates are scheduled within 60 to 90 days, the decisions may take three years or longer. The lawyers must take their time to obtain as much evidence as possible to ensure they prove your case well and leave little to nothing left for interpretation that can work against you.
If you or someone you know was a victim of child sexual assault, the sexual assault lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group in New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco can help you get the justice you deserve. Call 800.827.2209 for a free consultation.