About The Child Victims Act And Adult Survivors Act
In 2019, New York passed the Child Victims Act, which created a one-year lookback window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. The Law Firm of Connors & Connors, P.C. was selected by the Archdiocese of New York to represent Catholic parochial schools, Catholic parishes and Catholic religious orders in approximately 150 CVA cases. In no case are we representing the alleged abuser.
Many of the cases involve allegations of abuse which occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. Based upon our decades of experience in defending employers in a variety of settings, we are prepared to defend CVA claims in which the plaintiff claims our clients were negligent in the hiring, training and supervision of the alleged abuser. While we have great sympathy for those plaintiffs who have credible claims against the alleged abuser, we focus our defense on the ability of the plaintiff to prove our client was legally responsible to the plaintiff for the actions of the abuser.
The Adult Survivors Act Will Have Significant Implications
In May of 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act. This new Act will allow those who were sexually assaulted after they turned 18 years old to receive a 1-year lookback window. They can then sue the perpetrators, regardless of when the assault happened. As per a statement from Governor Hochul’s office:
“Similar to the Child Victims Act, the Adult Survivors Act will empower survivors of sexual offenses that occurred when they were over the age of 18. The one-year window will begin six months from signing and will allow survivors to sue regardless of the statute of limitations. For many survivors, it may take years to come to terms with the trauma of sexual assault and feel ready to seek justice against an abuser, while possibly experiencing fear of retaliation or shame.”
The window for the filing of Adult Survivors Act cases opens on November 24, 2022, and closes on November 24, 2023. We anticipate the legal defenses available to employers in Adult Survivors Act cases will be similar to the defenses we have developed in the Child Victims Act cases. That said, the Adult Survivors Act and the elimination of compulsory arbitration of sexual assault and sexual harassment cases will present employers with potential liabilities that are unexpected and possibly uninsured.
Knowing what is on the horizon, employers would be wise to review their document retention policies as well as their access to available documents and employee records. Please recall the corporate defendant’s weakest link is often its failure to comply with its own policies and its inability to produce records its policies state it must retain.