Scales of Justice

NYS Child Victims Act Takes Effect – Hundreds of Lawsuits Filed

Yesterday was the day that the Child Victims Act took effect in New York State.

New York State

Among other things, the new law allows those who were the victim of any type of sexual assault or molestation in New York State a one-year “window” in which to file claims against their abusers regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred (Many of those civil claims would otherwise be time-barred by the state’s old statute of limitations for such claims).

After the one-year “window” closes, victims will have until they turn 55 to file such civil claims. The old statute of limitations for such civil actions was three years beginning when the victim turned 18-years-old.

The new law also extends the period of time in which criminal charges can be brought against alleged perpetrators.

Now, victims will have until they turn 28 to file criminal complaints involving felony charges – and until 25 to file such complaints for misdemeanor charges (Both of those represent five-year extensions over the prior thresholds).

*****

427 Lawsuits Filed on Day #1

According to the New York State Office of Court Administration, there were a total of 427 Child Victims Act-related lawsuits filed yesterday.

Court officials indicated that they expect that number will eventually rise to 1,000.

That estimate seems way low to me.

*****

Roman Catholic Church & Boy Scouts Among Top Named Defendants

As expected, the Roman Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts were among the top-named defendants in the actions that were filed yesterday.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

But numerous suits were also filed against schools, teachers, and hospitals.

Even the late(?) Jeffrey Epstein was named as a defendant in one lawsuit (It was actually his estate that was named as the defendant in a lawsuit that was filed by a woman who claims that she was raped by Epstein when she was a teenager).

The late (?) Jeffrey Epstein

*****

News Conferences Held All Over New York State

All across the state, law firms and victim-survivors groups held news conferences to discuss the lawsuits they were filing.

Jeff Anderson, whose Minnesota-based law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates represents victims of child sexual abuse, indicated that in addition to protecting past victims of sexual abuse, the new law would also offer more protection for future victims.

Jeff Anderson

“This is their chance to take some action to begin the recovery of their power and to protect kids in the future better than they were,” Anderson said after a news conference with survivors in Albany. “It doesn’t deny the sorrow of what has been, but it is one of the biggest steps in the child-protection movement I’ve been associated with.”

Anderson indicated that his firm and other law firms it was working with on Child Victims Act-related cases had filed a total of 262 lawsuits yesterday. Many of those involved clergy spread all over New York State.

Anderson is working on the cases with lawyers including Robins Kaplan in New York City, Steve Boyd in Buffalo and Cynthia LaFave of LaFave, Wein & Frament in Albany.

“Today, it was the Catholic clergy – but there are many more to follow”, Anderson said. “It says something about the magnitude of the issue”,
New York City attorney Stephen Weiss noted in a statement that his firm had filed 15 Child Victims Act-related cases yesterday – all of which involved claims against the Catholic Church.

“Today is the beginning of accountability for the Catholic Church and other institutions that have turned a blind eye to child sexual abuse in the state of New York”, Weiss said. “Survivors will no longer be silenced”.

Weiss also noted that his firm currently represents another 155 victims around New York State.

*****

Is the New Law Constitutional?

Even before the new law went into effect, legal scholars were debating whether some of its provisions are constitutional.

In criminal cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that a law which extended the applicable statute of limitations to revive an otherwise time-barred prosecution violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

That is why the Child Victims Act can not be used to revive criminal charges that were time-barred before the new law went into effect.

But the judicial landscape is less clear when it comes to the retroactive application of new statutes of limitations with respect to civil claims.

Courtrooms in New York State will now be full with Child Victims Act-related cases

For the most part, such applications have been deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court unless they are deemed to be punitive in nature.

A separate constitutional issue will arise if a plaintiff tries to bring a claim under the Child Victims Act that was previously deemed to be time-barred.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has apparently not ruled on that issue, it seems unlikely that it would allow such a claim to move forward under the new law because to do so would, in effect, allow the legislature to overturn a final judgment by a court – which would violate the separation of powers doctrine.

*****
Is the New Law Fair and Reasonable?

Separate and apart from the question of whether the Child Victims Act is constitutional is the question of whether it’s fair and reasonable.

From the standpoint of those who end up being accused, the new law certainly poses some serious problems.

How the hell does someone who gets sued under the new law defend themselves about an incident that happened 30 or 40 or 50 years ago?

Does this mean that I have to worry about that college sophomore who was a little drunk when I took her home for the night suddenly deciding that she now thinks I sexually abused her?

“I did not have sexual relations with that girl”…

How the hell do I defend myself against that kind of allegation? How do I track down witnesses who could buttress my side of the story?

The bar where we were that night is long-closed – and the bartender who served us drinks that night is probably dead.

My roommate was killed in a car accident 10 years ago, so he’s not going to be available to testify on my behalf.

*****

And what about the mere threat of getting sued?

How many potential defendants will end up settling even before a case gets filed just to keep the matter from becoming public?

Certainly, just about anyone who’s an elected official or a candidate for public office would be especially vulnerable to such a threat.

The same holds true for just about every high school and college coach in New York State.

*****
And what about allegations against those who have recently died – and whose estates have not yet been settled?

How many claims are going to be asserted against the estates of wealthy people who recently died –and who will be unable to defend themselves against such claims?

How long will the probate process be held up while the sexual abuse claim works its work through the now thoroughly bottle-necked legal system?

*****

I’m afraid we’ve opened up a can of worms here – and one that’s going to be very hard to close back up.

What say you, Frank Report readers?

About the author

K.R. Claviger

19 Comments

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Leave a Reply to Scott Johnson Cancel reply

  • Oh wow, guess I’ll make some posts to find out whether any other Schoolhouse Road Pediatric patients were molested by the old and now deceased doctor like how I was 19-25 years ago. He wore a glove too so I didn’t even know its not normal for a seven year old to have her vagina manually “checked.”

    At least I’ve never cared about health insurance. I’ll just read papers and buy what I need online and die when I die

  • I can see this being legitimate with respect to institutions that used their reputation, influence, and ability to shield perpetrators, to effectively prevent victims of serial abusers from seeking redress at the time of the crimes.

    I am bothered by the possibility that this could be used to go after people who made borderline mistakes of judgment in a time when the standards of consent were different or unclear. However, as a practical matter, I suspect that virtually all of the cases brought will involve patterns of repeated abuse by offenders who had to be aware that their ongoing behavior was wrong, if only because accusations will have to meet a relatively high bar to succeed precisely because of the passage of time and the murky nature of single incidents.

    One related refinement that I think should apply to the statute of limitations of almost all crimes, to address ongoing abuses by high control groups and cults including, most infamously, Scientology, is that statutes of limitations should not begin to run for crimes committed while the victims were living in communal environments and under group control, until the individual leaves such environment and control. Scientology, for instance, gets away with much of the human trafficking it does, because by the time that victims leave or escape and start to realize that they were subjected to criminal abuses, the often relatively short statute of limitations has run out – in some cases where a specific crime has occurred, it seems there may even be deliberate strategies of preventing individuals from leaving while the offenses can still be reported.

    • Could they go after you Sultan, for all the contact you have had with young pre-teens on the internet? Maybe you could talk a little about that. This would be the perfect time for you to come clean.

      • You’re pretty obsessed about seeing Sultan as behind every nick. That kind of pegs you as an even sadder case than he is.

        What sort of life circumstances make it somehow more rewarding to be an internet troll, than to do something really satisfying or to contribute to the world?

        That’s the same sort of emptiness and thoughtless lack of purpose that gets people into cults, ironically.

  • Krclaviger,

    Excellent reporting as always.

    I had not fully considered the ramifications of this new law.

    The law is well intentioned and as we all know too well…..

    …..The path to hell is paved with good intentions….

    The amount of litigation this law could potentially create is staggering.

    Krclaviger eventually you may have to wait 5+ years for a court date, slight exaggeration, I hope.

  • “I’m afraid we’ve opened up a can of worms here – and one that’s going to be very hard to close back up.”

    Agree entirely. Be careful what you wish for it is a slippery slope.

  • If the sexual abuser is deceased can a victim still receive money? It seems like if your going to get raped or molested you better hope its by some wealthy perv and not your broke uncle.

  • There’s a reason for having a statute of limitations, and it’s not to let criminals off scott-free. Not everyone accused of a crime is guilty, there’s a long standing and utterly reasonable presumption of innocence in this country, and any citizen accused of a crime has the right to a fair trial.

    I’m suspicious of these kind of mob-pleasing changes to long standing law. We seem to be entering a new moral panic these days very like the Satanic Panic of the 1980s.

    • The statute of limitations being increased works in both directions, the plaintiff doesn’t have as much evidence years later, either. Plus, the defendant can sue for defamation of character, so the lawyers will get even richer.

      It’s not a moral panic, we are far more immoral than ever. It’s a tardy, #metoo campaign run by leftist nutjobs.

      I wasn’t panicked at all in the 1980s, it was mostly false accusations and a Hollywood stunt to sell more movie tickets.

    • Absolutely. It is frightening. There should be laws now that have to do with false accusations. I don’t know enough about law, but if you are going to accuse someone beyond the original statute of limitations, you should be required to back up your accusation in a concrete way. I don’t know… this is utter madness. For sure, people should pay that have abused children, but it seems like a person can just make things up and the accuser is always believed no matter what. There should be something in place that makes people think twice about making a false accusation. I have no idea what, but just something to balance this out.

    • File against whom?

      Rodent Keith Raniere owns NOTHING in his name, except a property in Albany worth $60k.

      Keith doesn’t own NXIVM and never has.

      The $8 million from bitch Pam Cafritz’s estate is NOT in Keith’s personal name.

      Keith likely controls the person appointed to be the new executor of that estate, but until that money goes into Keith’s name it ain’t legally his and nobody can sue him for it.

      Even if Keith deposited money from that estate in his own name (which he won’t) it’ll be gone long before Rhiannon can sue that bastard.

      Why?

      Cuz various attorneys and other NXIVM victims are already ahead of her in line for Keith’s assets.

      Besides, Keith allegedly harmed Rhiannon way back in 1990 or 1991, long before NXIVM or ESP existed.

      That means she can’t fucken sue NXIVM or ESP or its current benefactors, as they weren’t with Keith way back then.

      So WHO THE FUCK is Rhiannon gonna sue and actually RECOVER money from?

      No attorneys are gonna ‘front’ her legal fees to sue a dude who’s got practically ZERO fucken assets and is gonna be in prison for life.

      Get a clue, Heidi.

      Methinks being a hobo has affected your judgement. 🙂

      • Cock,

        Must wind you up to high heavens that HH may be temporarily down but far from out.
        She may be one of your continual targets but you won’t succeed. She’s way too strong and smart for you. Fool.

      • Assuming as you do, Bang rot, that everyone must do everything for strictly monetary gain won’t you please tell us WHO or WHAT is paying you to share your constant, stalkeresque presence on FR for so long with us?

        Btw, if you do know my granted well-connected, hobo-maker ex-husband Jeff Apple can you please tell him to stay the fuck out of my closet and that the items therein are valued at far more than the estimated $700 “his” attorney assesses them to be worth?

        Not that Jeff hasn’t already stretched out all my lingerie and polished off my shoes long ago but “his” attorney, Mr. Richard Solomon’s, threat to destroy my sister, Gina Hutchinson’s, momentos, writings, photos and legacy I was coincidentally, of course, pouring over the moment police arrived — now that, THAT was a pretty low estimate of humanity.

        Almost beats rendering a defenseless, disabled child temporarily motherless for no reason whatsoever other than “monetary gain” but I wouldn’t go that low.

        I’d put some spite, envy, abusiveness, possibly paranoia, certainly intentional infliction of emotional distress and a lot of Dennis Burke-blaming if not, in fact, facilitating in that overall $700 valuation including Gina’s legacy.

  • A KR Claviger mentions, the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church are and will be frequent defendants in these cases.

    A local paper is reporting that there is at least one lawsuit filed where an individual has accused his/her parents of actionable abuse under the Child Victims Act.

    Another fascinating legal issue recently in the news: campus rape, and how those accused of rape are fighting back, alleging that they have been deprived constitutionally guaranteed due process of law in disciplinary hearings conducted by colleges/universities.

    https://nypost.com/2019/07/22/turning-the-tide-against-campus-kangaroo-rape-courts/

  • WARNING FOR THE TROLLS OF NXIVM:

    One need not be convicted of criminal sex trafficking to be sued in civil court for sex trafficking.
    Yesterday a woman named “Jennifer” sued the estate of Jeffrey Epstein as well as Epstein’s co-conspirators for grooming her for sex trafficking.
    Of course with Epstein’s death there is no way now that he will ever be criminally convicted but his estate can be sued and so can his co-conspirators.

    What does that mean for the GANGSTERS and PIMPS of NXIVM?
    Even if Allison Pimp Mack and Lauren Pimp Salzman as well as Cruella Bronfman are never convicted of sex trafficking in a criminal case, their victims can sue them in civil court for their years of human rights abuses.

About Frank Parlato

About Frank Parlato

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

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