Gay City News
August 30, 2019
By Matt Tracy
New state law opens door for legal action against abusers from decades past
A wave of legal action spurred by the passage of the Child Victims Act has emerged in New York State, where attorneys representing victims of child sex abuse on August 28 announced lawsuits against the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, and the Boy Scouts of America.
The Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts, which have longstanding reputations for shielding abusers within their ranks, were hit in State Supreme Court with the lawsuits and formal discovery requests, meaning they are being asked to turn over years-old evidence of improper actions toward minors. The lawsuits allege that the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church have deliberately hidden files containing revealing evidence of abuse.
The victims are pursuing legal retribution as part of the Child Victims Act’s one-year “look-back window,” which by temporarily suspending the statute of limitations on abuse crimes allows survivors to seek some level of justice for the abuse they suffered during their youth. Many of those named in the lawsuits allegedly had charges against them substantiated internally decades ago and are deceased — one lawsuit names alleged abusers whose time with the Boy Scouts spanned the 1960s to the 1990s — but in those cases, survivors are still aiming for accountability from the organizations that employed them. In other cases, alleged abusers are still alive.
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