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Dozens of child sex abuse victims sue Catholic Church in New York after change in law
OVER 70 persons in New York State who were victims of sexual abuse as children have sued the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday under a new law.
The Child Victim Act which came into effect today temporarily enabled victims to file lawsuits over decades-old crime.
According to the New York County Supreme Court records, most of them accusing priests of sexually abusing them as children and church leaders of covering up the priests’ crimes.
The Act will scrap for one year a statute of limitations that had barred older complaints. The change in the law means people of any age have a year to file a retroactive sexual abuse lawsuit against an alleged offender.
The change has been applauded by human right activists who said the new development is an enthronement of justice.
The bill amends “New York’s antiquated laws to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, regardless of when the crime occurred,” Andrew Cuomo’s, Governor, New York State said in a statement after he signed the measure into law in February.
The law is expected to lead to hundreds of lawsuits against churches, schools and youth groups.
A lawsuit was has been filed already against Boy Scouts of America, accusing the national organization of knowingly employing thousands of leaders who were suspected of molesting children.
More cases are expected to be filed in the coming weeks against churches, schools, hospitals and other institutions across New York City, with defendants ranging from the plaintiffs’ relatives and neighbours to members of the clergy.
Weitz & Luxenberg, a law firm in New York said it would file 400 lawsuits under the Child Victims Act just in New York City, with plaintiffs ranging from teenagers to people in their 90s.
The firm claimed it was representing more than 1,200 people who were victims of sexual abuse as children.
A separate group of law firms, including Seeger Weiss, said it would be representing at least 170 plaintiffs across the state, many with complaints against the Roman Catholic Church.
After the one-year period expires, victims will have until the age of 55 to sue alleged abusers.