New York Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations

Child Sex Abuse: Filing Your Claim in Time

If you or someone you love has been a victim of child sex abuse, you can file a civil lawsuit against the abuser and seek compensation for the harm you suffered. You can also file a civil lawsuit against a third party, such as a church or school, that was responsible for employing and/or supervising the abuser. But before you consider legal action, it is important that you know the statute of limitations. This is a term for a legal time frame in which a lawsuit must be filed. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the specified period, you will lose the right to do so.

In New York, if you were sexually abused as a minor, you must file your lawsuit within 5 years of reaching the age of 18. If you wait until after age 23 you will not be permitted to sue your abuser and seek compensation. The statute of limitations for filing a sex abuse or negligence claim against a third party such as a school or a church is three years However, if the acts of negligence occurred when you were a minor, the time period expires 3 years after your 18th birthday, at age 21.

In matters of child sex abuse, New York has one of the shortest statutes of limitations in the U.S. Some states have eliminated statutes of limitation in criminal and civil child sex abuse actions. A bill to do away with child sex abuse statutes of limitation in both civil and criminal actions in New York has passed in the Assembly but failed in the Senate four times. The bill would also provide for a one-year, one-time window, beginning 60 days after the governor signs the bill, in which people can bring civil lawsuits against individual abusers or institutions in older cases of abuse. Queens Democrat Margaret Markey sponsored the bill in reaction to allegations of child sex abuse in some of New York’s exclusive high schools and a Yeshiva University high school in Manhattan. The proposed legislation has been vigorously opposed by a Republican-controlled Senate as well as by the Catholic Church.

Experts on child sex abuse say that victims often feel guilty or ashamed to come forward to say they have been abused. It is especially difficult for victims to confront their abusers. Many people believe that individuals abused as children should be given as much time as they need to deal with the trauma and decide whether to file a civil claim or criminal charges against the abuser. Under current New York law, a child sex abuser can evade prosecution or a lawsuit merely because the statute of limitations has expired. Meanwhile, the victim suffers a lifetime of emotional harm.

Contact the Orlow Firm

A sensitive, experienced New York sexual abuse attorney can help you decide whether and when to file a lawsuit in cases of child sex abuse. If you or a loved one was victimized by sex abuse as a child, contact The Orlow Firm for a free initial consultation. For your convenience, we maintain four offices throughout New York City.

Call (646) 647-3398 or contact us online.