The window to file lawsuits under New York State’s Child Victims Act will come to a close later this month, but until a few weeks ago, David Ferrick didn’t know that the law enabling victims of sexual assault to sue even existed.
Ferrick, 52, learned about it last month in Fresno, California — thousands of miles away from his childhood home in Brooklyn, where he attended St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church in Greenpoint and where he says in a newly filed lawsuit that a priest there molested him when he was just a 10-year-old altar boy.
The aim of the law, which Gov. Cuomo signed in February 2019, was to allow victims the chance to pursue their abusers even if the statute of limitations for their crimes had passed. It went into effect in August 2019 and included a deadline for victims to file their claims by August 2020.
So far, more than 8,200 legal claims have been filed under the Child Victims Act in New York state, according to the state’s Office of Court Administration. Over the last week, at least 625 new claims have been filed.
Jennifer Freeman, a lawyer with the Marsh Law Firm, has been filing lawsuits under the CVA since it first went into effect and said that, with the window to file lawsuits now closing, her firm has seen a marked uptick in new claims over the last three months.
She remains concerned, though, that many victims are still unaware of the fact that they can pursue their abusers — and that they will soon no longer have that opportunity.
“The thing that worries me is: What about those people who do not live in the New York area?” she said. “If they have a claim, they have to call a child sex abuse lawyer right away.”
When Ferrick got the call from a private investigator working for the Marsh firm in July, at least two others had already made accusations and filed lawsuits against Sexton, according to Jason Amala, an attorney with the firm.