Years after child abuse survivors in New York started demanding changes to the state’s statutes of limitations, victims are finally getting a chance to have their cases heard in court.
Hundreds of survivors are planning to file lawsuits on Wednesday against their alleged abusers and the institutions they claim covered up sex crimes as the state opens a one-year litigation window for cases that fell outside the previous statutes of limitations.
Michael Pfau, an attorney at Seattle-based Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, told HuffPost that his law firm is filing more than 100 suits Wednesday under the temporary window for instances of child sexual abuse that allegedly occurred between the late 1940s and the early 2000s. About 75 of these cases are against Roman Catholic dioceses across New York, Pfau said. The rest target the Boy Scouts of America and Rockefeller University ― two institutions that have been plagued with allegations that they failed to stop child sexual abuse.
The attorney predicted that Wednesday will be “very emotional” for survivors.
“After feeling like they have no voice in New York state, victims now feel like they have a powerful voice,” Pfau said.
Pfau said his firm expects to file more than 500 additional lawsuits under New York’s window in the upcoming months, including cases against religious orders, school districts, foster homes and coaches. He said financial compensation is only one of several reasons why child sexual abuse victims want their day in court.
“For many, if not most of my clients, the primary reasons for filing these lawsuits are to tell their stories, protect children in the future and obtain the truth from entities like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts about what they have done over the last decades,” he said.