More than 9,000 lawsuits filed after New York allowed more time for child sex abuse victims

The Hill

August 13, 2021

By Rachel Scully

More than 9,000 lawsuits in New York were filed after the state temporarily set aside the usual time limits on civil lawsuits for two years to allow victims of childhood sex abuse to sue their abusers, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Victims sued churches, camps, scout groups, schools, hospitals and other institutions. The window for filing a lawsuit closes Saturday. 

“This has, ironically, been a very healing experience for me on a personal level,” Carol DuPre, 74, told the AP. DuPre said she was molested by a priest as a young teen in the 1960s and sued the Roman Catholic diocese in Rochester.

She said the events are “in a storehouse in her mind,” but the abuse still impacted her for decades. However, filing for a lawsuit allowed her to release the hold it still has on her.

“The idea of confronting it, talking about it and dealing with it is internally setting me free,” DuPre said. 

There have been thousands of allegations against the Roman Catholic Church in New York of sexual abuse by priests, teachers and other authority figures. Four dioceses in the state have filed for bankruptcy due to the legal fees.

Churches are not the only institutions impacted. The Boy Scouts of America also looked for bankruptcy protection in February 2020. In July, it reached an $850 million agreement with lawyers representing tens of thousands of victims of child sex abuse, according to the AP.

New York is one of a few states that have allowed a longer time period for people to file lawsuits for childhood sexual abuse, according to the AP. New York was supposed to close the window of filing in August 2020 but extended that window twice due to coronavirus concerns.

Usually, courts establish a deadline due to the difficulty of holding a fair trial on an incident that happened many years ago.

Many are hopeful that the state will pass a resolution after the cut-off window due to the thousands of lawsuits filed. Attorney Jeff Anderson said he expects to see more progress in the future.

“It’s still early in the process because the window hasn’t closed yet,” Anderson said, according to the news outlet. “And once it does, we’ll see more progress.”