The open window of the Adult Survivors Act has closed. What happens now?
P. Diddy, Andrew Cuomo, Eric Adams – these are just some of the boldfaced names that people filed suits against during the open window of the Adult Survivors Act.
It allowed former victims of sexual assault in New York state to file a civil suit even if the statute of limitations had expired. About 3,000 lawsuits were filed. The window was open for a year and just recently closed. So, what happens next?
Experts say the criminal justice system is glacial – and some of these cases may be tied up for years. The process will include discovery, depositions and hearings. Advocacy groups like Safe Horizon are working with lawmakers to try to extend the window to file a suit. Right now, if victims missed the deadline, they can’t file.
Experts say despite this, the changes in legislation in the past 16 plus years have been pivotal for abuse victims. This includes the elimination of the statute of limitations on crimes like rape in the first degree in 2006, the Child Victims Act in 2019, and the Adult Survivors Act in 2022.
“All of these changes in Law is an acknowledgement by the legislature by the governor that trauma takes time that to expect somebody to expect to come forward right away, whether the abuse happened to them as a child or as an adult is simply not realistic,” Michael Polenberg, the vice president of Government Affairs for Safe Horizon told News 12 New York.
“The laws on the books of New York did not match the experiences of many many survivors of sexual abuse. We’re gratified the state is moving in the right direction, there’s more that can be done to look at the laws and ensure they’re a better fit for survivors,” he continued.
Polenberg says there’s a bill in Albany that’s looking to eliminate the statute of limitations on child sex crimes altogether. If passed, he thinks this can set a precedent for adult victims as well.