Epstein Survivors Over 18 Need Adult Survivors Act to Pursue Justice in the Courts
A compensation fund for victims of Mr. Epstein began accepting claims today.
BROOKLYN, NY (06/25/2020) (readMedia)-- Thursday, the New York Post reported that Jeffrey Epstein's estate has set up a compensation fund for survivors of abuse to begin accepting claims.
In response Michael Polenberg, VP of Government Affairs for Safe Horizon said:
"While the private compensation fund established by the Epstein estate may offer relief to some survivors, others may want to pursue justice in the courts. Unfortunately for those over 18 at the time of the abuse, they may be well beyond the statute of limitations and unable to sue for damages unless New York State passes the Adult Survivors Act now. Currently survivors who were under 18 at the time of their abuse have that right thanks to the Child Victims Act, and it should be extended to include those over 18 who are no less deserving."
After languishing for 13 long years in the New York State Legislature, lawmakers finally passed the Child Victims Act. The law allows survivors who were under 18 when their abuse occurred the ability to pursue justice in the courts. The law extends the statute of limitations from 23 years to 25 for misdemeanors, 28 for felonies and 55 for civil cases. Critically the law opened a one year window for survivors of any age to file a civil claim against their abuser or liable institutions no matter when the abuse occurred. On May 27th a one year extension of that window was passed by the State Legislature, though it has not yet been signed by the Governor. Survivors over the age of 18 do not have the same opportunity unless they are still within the statute of limitations. Multi-year lookback windows give survivors access to justice given that it can take decades to grapple with the shame and guilt associated with child sexual abuse. While New York's window is limited to one year several states already have 2 or 3 year windows: New Jersey and North Carolina, and California respectively. Survivors who decide to proceed with a civil suit must also grapple with the emotional and psychological costs of holding their abusers accountable in court, which can be especially difficult if that abuser is a family member. Survivors deserve appropriate time to access their rights under the law. A bill (S.6810 Holyman / A.8726 L. Rosenthal) has been introduced in the Legislature that would change that. The Adult Survivor's Act (ASA) would allow survivors one year to bring a civil suit against their abuser or the institution that may have failed to protect them, even if they're past the statute of limitations.