Adult Survivors Act: After Weinstein verdict, survivors fight for pathway to justice
Carrie Goldberg stood beside fellow survivors, advocates, and lawmakers last Friday to call on New York state to pass the Adult Survivors Act (ASA).
The ASA would provide a one year look back window for any survivor 18+ of sexual abuse to sue her or his abuser in civil court, even if the statute of limitations (the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated) has expired.
What does the Adult Survivors Act do?
Creates a one-year window for survivors barred by the current statute of limitations to file civil lawsuits against their abuser or an institution that was negligent in stopping the abuse or covered up the abuse, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.
Why is the Adult Survivors Act important?
Many survivors need years, or even decades, to process their abuse. Because of that, many survivors are already outside of the statute of limitations by the time they feel safe and able to come forward.
Good to know:
- The statute of limitations for civil cases for most sexual offenses (called Article 130 crimes) is currently five years.
- The statute of limitations for suing a negligent institution in civil court is 1-3 years depending on the type of claim and whether, or not, there is a criminal conviction.
- If a survivor pursues civil damages against a public entity, he or she has to file a notice of claim within 90 days of the offense.
- Safe Horizon are leading the charge on the ASA – they also campaigned to enact the Child Victims Act, a similar law which removed the statute of limitations for child abuse victims for one year (the one-year CVA window closes this summer read more here!).
Rapists must pay. The purpose of our courts is to take money from wrongdoers and give it to injured parties. Survivors of sexual assault deserve justice, love, understanding, and closure. But also, they deserve to have the financial assets of their rapist. Money won’t take away the memories, but it can make life more comfortable. Unlike other injuries, the trauma from sexual violence often outlasts the statute of limitations and it may be years before a survivor is ready to seek vindication in courts. Fairness requires justice for sexual assault victims. And fairness is the ASA.
It takes many years and lots of courage to come forward and report sexual assault, which is why Albany extended the criminal statute of limitations from 5 years to 20 years and allowed child survivors of sexual assault to have civil claims heard under the Child Victims Act.
Anyone who was a legal adult when they were sexual assaulted by predators like Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein or others should the same opportunity to come forward and seek justice.
The #MeToo movement has inspired a sea change in our culture — it should inspire a sea change in our legal system too.
State Senator Brad Hoylman
If you have been a victim of rape, abuse, revenge porn, or stalking and want to talk about your legal options, contact us at 646-666-8909 or through our online submission form.