FOUR new Victims’ Rights laws you need to know about

FOUR brand spanking new Victims’ Rights Laws passed in New York last session that you need to know about!

Revenge porn-ers, rapists, child abusers, and sexual harassers all got a wake-up call in 2019, as lawmakers in Albany and warriors across the state of New York pushed forward some new legislation that will help survivors get justice, and send the message to psychos, assholes, pervs that we are coming for them.

 

So, what changed? 

  • Revenge porn law
    • Revenge porn is a Class A misdemeanor
    • Victim can sue offender or institutions/companies that disseminate revenge porn
    • Victim – via judge – can demand websites take content down
  • Rape SOL bill
    • Extends criminal Statute of Limitations for 2nd degree rape to 20 years (from 5)
    • Extends criminal SOL* for 3rd degree rape to 10 years (from 5)
    • Extends civil SOL for all rape to 20 years (from 5)
    • Not retroactive
  • Child Victims Act
    • Starts criminal SOL for child sex abuse at age 23 instead of 18
    • Extends civil SOL to sue offender or institutions that enabled abuse to when the victim is 55 years old
    • 1 year lookback window for retroactive claims August 14, 2019-August 13, 2020
  • Sexual Harassment bill
    • Extends Human Rights Law to all employers
    • Gets rid of “severe and pervasive” standard for sexual harassment
    • Combats affirmative Faragher-Ellerth defense that the employee never filed a complaint about harassment
    • Expands anti-discrimination protections for domestic workers and contractors/non-employees
    • Authorizes awarding punitive damages and attorney fees in discrimination cases
    • Prohibits NDAs that prevent employees from speaking out about discrimination
    • Prohibits mandatory arbitration of discrimination claims
    • Extends SOL to 3 years for sexual harassment claims
    • Requires that employers provide sexual harassment policy and training materials in employees’ primary languages

 

*The SOL (Statute of Limitations) is the period of time after an injury/incident has occurred by when you must take legal action.  After that, the court will consider it “too late”. This can be incredibly frustrating because a victim may not feel safe, able, or ready to come forward within the assigned period of time.

 

Tell me more….

 

Revenge Porn Law!

The new revenge porn law was sponsored by Assemblymember Edward Braunstein and Senator Monica Martinez. It passed on Feb. 28, and was signed by Governor Cuomo on July 23.

It adds to NY penal law the crime of “unlawful dissemination or publication of an intimate image when with intent to cause harm to the emotional, financial or physical welfare of another person, he or she intentionally disseminates or publishes a still or video image of such other person, who is identifiable from the still or video image itself or from information displayed in connection with the still or video image, without such person’s consent.”

The offending material must depict unclothed/exposed intimate part of person or person engaging in sexual conduct, and it must have been taken with a reasonable expectation on the victim’s part that it would remain private.

There are some exceptions: when the pic is used in reporting of unlawful conduct, dissemination or publication of an intimate image made during lawful and common practices of law enforcement, legal proceedings or medical treatment, images involving voluntary exposure in a public or commercial setting, or dissemination or publication for a legit public purpose

This new law:

-Gives family courts and criminal courts concurrent jurisdiction

-Adds a private right of action against offender – meaning you can sue the a$$hole who did it!

-Any website or internet service provider that hosts or transmits NCP can be ordered to remove it. The victim can request a court order requiring a website to permanently remove image (if it is “reasonably within such website’s control”).

What to remember:

  • You must take action either 3 years after dissemination/publication or 1 year after you discover dissemination/publication, whichever is longer
  • The bill caveats that it does not limit or enlarge CDA 230 (boohoo)

 

 

Rape Statue Of Limitations Bill

The new law:

  • Extends the criminal SOL for 2nd degree rape or criminal sexual act to 20 years
  • Extends criminal SOL for 3rd degree rape or criminal sexual act to 10 years
  • Gets rid of criminal SOL for 1st degree incest
  • Extends criminal SOL for 2nd degree incest to 20 years
  • Extends civil SOL for rape in the 2nd/3rd degree, criminal sexual act in 1st/2nd/3rd degree, and incest in the 1st/2nd degree to 20 years
    • Civil action can be against “any party whose intentional or negligent acts or omissions are alleged to have resulted in the commission of the said conduct”
  • Not retroactive → can only initiate criminal charges/civil suits related to previous acts if the old SOL has not already expired

 

Child Victims Act

Read all about it here!

  • Senate bill page; Assembly bill page
  • Sponsored by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and Senator Brad Hoylman
  • Passed January 28, signed February 14
  • Criminal SOL for sexual offenses committed against children, incest against children, or use of children in sexual performance begins at age 23 (previously 18) or when the offense is reported to law enforcement (whichever occurs first)
  • Extends civil SOL for child sex abuse to age 55
    • Victims can sue the offender or negligent institutions
  • Allows retroactive civil claims during a 1-year window that on August 14
  • Requires judicial training on child sex abuse

 

Sexual Harassment Bill

(This one has a lot of different provisions, but below you will find the ones that are most relevant to our clients)

  • Senate bill page; Assembly bill page
  • Sponsored by Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and Senator Alessandra Biaggi
  • Extends Human Rights Law to cover all employers (including state and political)
  • Prohibits all forms of discriminatory harassment against people in all protected classes by employers, licensing agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations
  • Eliminates the “severe and pervasive” standard for harassment
    • Affirmative defense now that “the harassing conduct does not rise above a level that a reasonable victim of discrimination with the same protected characteristic would consider petty slights or trivial inconveniences”
  • Combats Faragher-Ellerth defense by stating that failure to make a previous complaint of harassment shall not be determinative of liability
  • Extends protection for domestic workers to all forms of harassment
  • Extends protection for contractors and other non-employers to include all unlawful discriminatory practices (previously it was just sexual harassment)
  • Authorizes awarding punitive damages in cases of employment discrimination related to private employers
  • Employers must provide employees with the sexual harassment policy and training materials/information in English and their primary language
  • Extends SOL for complaints under Human Rights Law to 3 years for sexual harassment (previously, and for all other types of discrimination, the SOL is 1 year)
  • Department in consultation with Division of Human Rights will create model sexual harassment policy and training program and make it available to employers in English and other languages
    • Every 4 years starting in 2022 the dept. will update the materials
  • Not retroactive; only applies going forward
  • The law takes effect immediately, but SOL extension will take effect 1 year after it becomes law

 

If you have been a victim of rape, child abuse, revenge porn, sexual harassment and want to talk about your legal options, contact us at 646-666-8909 or through our online submission form.

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