Opinion: Are you a former New Yorker? Time’s almost up for childhood sex-abuse survivors to seek justice

Miami Herald

February 19, 2021

By Jennifer Freeman

Former New York residents who experienced sex abuse as children, no matter how long ago, can file claims to hold culpable institutions, individuals accountable.

We all know it — every year, thousands of New Yorkers move to Florida for its warm weather and leisurely lifestyle. Some stay — I’m a former New Yorker delighted to be living in the Sunshine State for the past three years. The pandemic has accelerated this trend, with thousands more choosing Florida as a new home.

Yet most former New Yorkers have no idea that our legal rights were dramatically expanded recently. In 2019, New York State enacted landmark legislation that makes it possible to seek justice for decades-old child sex-abuse crimes — the Child Victims Act (CVA). For a short time, this new law suspends the statute of limitations for child sex-abuse claims and provides a unique opportunity for survivors of such abuse, which happened in New York, to seek accountability and finality.

But the time to take action is almost up. The CVA provides a one-time, two-year window for survivors to sue for abuse regardless of when the abuse occurred. Survivors have until early August 2021 to seek justice against institutions such as the Catholic Church, New York medical institutions, public and private schools, foster-care providers, athletic organizations, religious groups, summer camps and any other entity, as well as individuals who perpetrated or enabled these heinous crimes.

This law doesn’t just apply to current New York residents, it extends to anyone who was ever abused in New York, no matter how long ago and regardless of where they live now. If you grew up in New York State and suffered abuse at the hands of a clergy member, youth director, doctor, teacher, coach, family member or anyone else, this law applies to you. Over the past year, following New York’s lead, several states have reformed their statutes of limitation; sadly, Florida is not among them — but we’re working on it.

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