In August 2019, the Child Victims Act (CVA) went into effect, amidst a flurry of news reports. The unique law provides a one-year window of opportunity for victims of child sex abuse to seek civil damages against their abusers. It also enables the victims to sue until they reach the age of 55. The new law also streamlines the process by eliminating the requirement for a “Notice of Claim.” For criminal prosecution, the law also gives victims until age 28 to press felony charges and age 25 for misdemeanors - five-year increases from the previous statute of limitations.
Law firms have been gearing up to file suits in any one of the 62 Supreme Courts around New York State, ever since the law was passed in February of this year. Among the main targets will be Rockefeller University Hospital, long accused of allowing a pediatrician to molest dozens of his patients, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Catholic Church. Attorney Michael Pfau, whose firm is representing some of the alleged victims, said “We are filing lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church, against every diocese in the state, and we are going to see real change in these institutions that have harbored and employed these pedophiles. Their legal exposure will force change.”
Firms are running ads on different networks, gaining clients while informing the public about the new law. Law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates is advertising on TV and radio, and plans to file more than 200 suits under CVA, saying dozens of alleged abusers will be publicly identified for the very first time.
There are now even websites that identify the names of members of the church that have been identified as perpetrators.
Within the next twelve months, the courts may see thousands of suits being filed. Hundreds of cases have already been filed just over a month later, with some of them coming from people that no longer live in New York State.