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Survivors sexually abused as adults want chance to sue in NY

January 13, 2022 Marina Villeneuve, Associated Press
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New Yorkers who were sexually abused as adults could sue abusers in civil court under a bill that supporters are again urging the state to pass.

The Adult Survivors Act would provide a one-year litigation window for those individuals to launch lawsuits even if the statute of limitations has passed. Under existing state law, survivors must file a claim within five years of the abuse.

The state Senate is on track to vote on the bill again this year: the Senate Finance Committee passed the Adult Survivors Act out of committee Tuesday. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s office didn’t immediately provide comment Thursday.

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Supporters, including survivors of sexual abuse, have long questioned why the law has yet to pass in New York, which passed a similar 2019 law for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Supporters include some of more than 200 women who say they were sexually assaulted by former New York gynecologist Robert A. Hadden.

Hadden, 63, was indicted in September 2020 on federal charges of sexually abusing patients over nearly two decades. He pleaded not guilty.

Lawyer Gloria Allred, who’s long represented victims of sexual misconduct, said survivors have “already waited long enough.”

“Every survivor deserves a pathway to justice in the courts no matter how old they were or how long ago it happened,” she said. “But across the nation, restrictive statutes of limitation routinely bar victims from justice. The Adult Survivors Act will give New York survivors the opportunity to hold individuals and institutions accountable and finally put them on notice, that protecting themselves over sexual assault victims is not an option.”

The Adult Survivors Act unanimously passed the Senate last summer, but it has languished in the Assembly. Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat, had expressed doubt about the need for the law, though a spokesperson later said she supports it.

Safe Horizon CEO Liz Roberts, whose nonprofit helps victims of violence, called for New York to pass the bill and said research shows it can take time for survivors to come forward.

“Trauma takes time – and it’s about time our justice system caught up,” Roberts said.

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