New York Sexual Abuse Laws: A Guide for Survivors
Sexual abuse can have devastating impacts on survivors. New York has passed laws in recent years to help survivors seek justice, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. This guide covers key aspects of New York sexual abuse laws and provides resources for survivors.
Defining Sexual Abuse and Sex Crimes in New York
New York Penal Law Article 130 defines various sex offenses and lack of consent. Key offenses include:
- Rape: Forced or coerced sexual intercourse. Different degrees based on age, use of force.
- Criminal Sexual Act: Forced or coerced oral or anal sexual conduct.
- Sexual Abuse: Subjecting someone to sexual contact without consent.
- Forcible Touching: Touching intimate parts of another by force, without consent.
- Aggravated Sexual Abuse: Inserting object or body part in another’s body cavities without consent. Degrees vary by level of force or age.
Lack of consent includes inability to consent due to age, disability, and use of forcible compulsion or force.
New York’s Adult Survivors Act
The law created a special one-year lookback window starting in November 2022. During this window, survivors can file lawsuits for sexual abuse or assault that occurred when they were over 18 years old, even if the statute of limitations has expired.
After the lookback window closes in late 2023, the statute of limitations will be extended to 20 years from the offense for filing civil lawsuits in adult sex abuse cases.
Filing a Lawsuit Under the Adult Survivors Act
The Adult Survivors Act allows survivors to sue the perpetrator and any institutions that enabled the abuse. Lawsuits can seek damages for psychological and emotional distress, lost income, medical costs, and other impacts.
To file a lawsuit under the new law:
- The plaintiff must have been over 18 when the abuse occurred.
- The abuse must have occurred in New York.
- The plaintiff can sue the perpetrator, employers, institutions, or entities that were negligent or concealed the abuse.
- The law covers sexual offenses including rape, criminal sexual acts, forcible touching, sexual abuse, and aggravated sexual abuse.
- Plaintiffs have 1 year from November 24, 2022 to file claims for expired cases.
- After the lookback window closes, plaintiffs have 20 years from the offense to sue.
Consult an attorney to discuss your options for filing under the Adult Survivors Act.
Statutes of Limitations for Criminal Cases
For criminal charges, statutes of limitations restrict how long after an offense charges can be filed:
- Felony sexual offenses: No statute of limitations. Can be prosecuted anytime.
- Misdemeanor sexual offenses: 2 year statute of limitations in New York.
The Adult Survivors Act did not change criminal statutes of limitations in New York. It only applies to civil lawsuits.
Prosecuting old sexual abuse cases can be difficult due to lack of evidence. For justice, focus on civil lawsuits during the lookback window.
Moving Forward After Abuse
Coming to terms with past sexual abuse is challenging emotionally and legally. While the road is difficult, taking action can help many survivors find closure and justice.
Use the lookback window wisely, take care of your health, and know there are people ready to help. With compassion and perseverance, healing is possible.