On the first day that lawsuits could be filed for decades-old accusations of child abuse, none were made in Franklin or Essex counties.
By the end of Wednesday, 427 cases had been filed around the state as a result of the New York state’s Child Victims Act, which allows for those who claim they were abused as children to sue their abusers, as well as the institutions who may have protected the abusers, even if the cases were older than what is allowed under the statue of limitations. Of that number, 169 were filed in New York City, and the remaining 258 were filed in the rest of the state, according to the director of public information for the New York State Unified Court System, Lucian Chalfen.
Forty-five judges have been designated throughout the state to prepare for the cases coming in as a response to the new law. Those who file will have one year to file cases, according to the new law’s “lookback” provision.
Under the current law, child sexual abuse offenses cannot be prosecuted more than five years after they occurred. Civil lawsuits for sex abuse offense cannot be filed after three years of the victim’s 18th birthday.
The law will also allow let victims begin civil lawsuits any time before they reach 55 years old, extend the time people can be tried criminally for child sex abuse and require judicial training for crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors.
To help with the sudden wave of cases, training has been conducted statewide for the past few days in county and state courts, according to a press release from the¯ Unified Court System. Clerks and other members of the court system have received training on the new law and frequent issues that arise in civil actions regarding sexual abuse.