At Safe Horizon, we believe that all survivors of sexual assault deserve the chance to heal and seek justice regardless of when the abuse occurred or their age at the time of abuse. For many adults assaulted in New York State, the period for filing lawsuits is determined by different factors and leaves justice out of reach for many survivors. The Adult Survivors Act would give survivors assaulted when they were an adult and who are barred by unfair statute of limitations an opportunity to seek civil justice in the courts.
What is the Adult Survivors Act?
The Adult Survivors Act (ASA) is proposed legislation that would create a special one year look back window to allow individuals who were 18 or older when they were sexually assaulted in New York State to file a lawsuit against the person who harmed them and/or the negligent institution. This bill is necessary because of the very short statute of limitations that most adult survivors of sexual assault currently face.
What Does it Mean That a “Negligent Institution” Can be Sued?
When we say institution, we are referring to any organization. This can include schools, houses of worship, or the workplace. Institutions are considered negligent when they knew, or should have had known, about the abuse.
How Would the Adult Survivors Act Work?
- Beginning six months after the ASA becomes law, any time-barred adult who was sexually assaulted in New York State would have one year to file a retrospective civil lawsuit
- The ASA would only set aside the civil statute of limitations for the duration of the one-year window. When that window expires, the existing statute of limitations would once again be in effect
Who Could Benefit from the Adult Survivors Act?
- Any time-barred adult survivor of a sexual assault that took place in New York State. Under New York law, an adult is considered to be 18 years of age or older.
Did New York State Already Reform Statutes of Limitations for Sexual Assault and Rape Cases?
In 2019, New York State lawmakers extended the statute of limitations by 20 years for adults filing civil lawsuits for a select number of sex crimes. However, this only affects new cases, and is not retroactive.
What is the Difference Between the Adult Survivors Act and the Child Victims Act?
The Child Victims Act (CVA) took effect in 2019 and changed the criminal and civil statutes of limitations in cases of child sexual assault. In addition to extending the statutes of limitations forward, the CVA created a special one-year look back window to allow time-barred survivors to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser and/or the negligent institution. The CVA only applies to cases where the victim was younger than 18 years old at the time of the abuse. The ASA would create a similar one-year window for people were already adults when they were assaulted.
Safe Horizon Calls on Lawmakers to Pass the Adult Survivors Act
Safe Horizon helped to lead the coalition of survivors, advocates, organizations, law enforcement, and legislators that carried the CVA across the finish line in 2019. Now, the same lawmakers who sponsored the CVA are sponsoring the ASA, and we are proud to stand with them once again to enact statute of limitation reform for sexual assault victims.
Safe Horizon calls on the full New York State Legislature to pass the Adult Survivors Act as soon as possible.