When New York State’s Child Victims Act was signed in to law, the statute of limitations that restricted survivors of childhood sexual abuse from pursuing justice against their abusers changed dramatically.
Empowered with new rights under New York State law, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are coming forward to seek justice and shine a spotlight on abusers and institutions whose negligence allowed the abuse to occur.
Barry Covert, a Senior Partner at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria and the attorney for many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, was interviewed for The Buffalo News’ recent story. Mr. Covert discussed how widespread the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse has been in Western New York and his experiences with the process of representing survivors who were abused by catholic priests in the Buffalo Diocese before the Child Victims Act became a law.
Child Victims Act Look-Back Window
Before the Child Victims Act was enacted, if a survivor of childhood sexual abuse in New York State wanted to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser, they had to do so by their 23rd birthday. Under the Child Victims Act, that statute has significantly expanded and victims of sexual abuse now have until their 55th birthday to take legal action.
The immediate expansion of the statute of limitations is a victory for victims of childhood sexual abuse. However; what options are available to victims of childhood sexual abuse who reached their 55th birthday before the Child Victims Act was signed in to law in New York State?
A provision in the Child Victims Act provides a one-time, twelve month window, where the statute of limitations on filing a civil lawsuit against an abuser is essentially eliminated. The “look-back window” provision of the Child Victims Act goes in to effect six months after the date the Child Victims Act was signed in to law. The look-back window will stay in effect for twelve months.
Specifically, from August 14, 2019 to August 14, 2020, adults of any age who were sexually abused as a child can file a civil lawsuit against their abuser and any institutions whose negligence allowed the abuse to occur.
When discussing the start of the Child Victims Act’s look-back window period, Barry Covert state to The Buffalo News “I would say on the first day of the window, and the first week or the second week, you’re just going to see a flood of cases. I would not be surprised to see 400 or 500 cases being filed, just locally.”
The Buffalo News Profile on Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse
In a recent covert story in The Buffalo News, Kevin Koscielniak bravely told the story of his abuse as a teen and the consequences of abuse that have extended through most of his life. Mr. Koscielniak is speaking out to expose abusers and the secrecy of institutions where abuse takes place. In Mr. Koscielniak’s case, that institution was the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and the abuser was a catholic priest who worked as a librarian in a Buffalo area catholic high school.
Kevin Koscielniak talked to The Buffalo News about trying to contact the Buffalo Diocese regarding his abuse nearly a year ago, in April or May of 2018. This was shortly after the diocese established the IRCP, a compensation program for victims of clergy abuse. However, Mr. Koscielniak stated, he did not get a return call from the diocese until July or August.
Barry Covert stated in The Buffalo News article that we was preparing lawsuits on behalf of several clients who were aware of the diocese’s compensation program and chose not to apply, even though at the time there was no guarantee the Child Victims Act would pass. Covert stated “A lot of them said they just didn’t trust the church. They thought [the compensation program] was a way to whitewash their story.”
The Buffalo News stated Mr. Koscielniak’s legal counsel intends to file a lawsuit on his behalf when the Child Victims Act’s look-back window period begins.
More Information of The Child Victims Act and the Look-Back Window
If you have questions about The Child Victims Act, the upcoming look-back window, or the legal rights of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse; please contact attorney Barry Covert. Mr. Covert can be contacted for a free confidential case review for victims of sexual abuse at email@example.com or 716-849-1333, ext. 365.