Child sex abuse victims sue church - GulfToday

Child sex abuse victims sue church

Bridie-Farrell

Sexual abuse victim Bridie Farrell addresses a news conference in New York on Wednesday. Associated Press

Dozens of people in New York state who were victims of sexual abuse as children sued institutions including the Roman Catholic Church in New York on Wednesday, the first day a new law temporarily enabled them to file lawsuits over decades-old crimes.

About 85 people had filed lawsuits against the church in New York by late morning, according to New York County Supreme Court records. Most of them accuse priests of sexually abusing them as children and church leaders of covering up the priests’ crimes.

The state’s landmark Child Victims Act includes a provision that, beginning Wednesday, lifts for one year a statute of limitations that had barred older complaints and which critics said was too restrictive. The law is expected to lead to hundreds of lawsuits against churches, schools and youth groups.

The change in the law means people of any age in New York state have a year to file a sexual abuse lawsuit against an alleged offender. Previously, most victims of childhood sexual abuse only had till the age of 23 to bring criminal charges or to seek damages in civil lawsuits.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called these limits “antiquated” upon signing the measure into law in February.

At least one woman who said she was sexually abused by the late Jeffrey Epstein sued the disgraced financier’s estate early on Wednesday, and more were expected to follow.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York said in a statement on Wednesday that it had anticipated facing new lawsuits with the change in the law. It said it would continue to “invite people to consider” a compensation programme created in 2016 for people sexually abused by its clergy, including those previously excluded from suing by the statute of limitations.

So far, the archdiocese has paid more than $66 million in compensation to 335 victims, as determined by a board of arbitrators and funded by a loan secured against its valuable real estate portfolio. In accepting the compensation, those victims have waived their right to sue in court, the archdiocese said. “While we carefully review the claims made in these suits, we ask that people pray for peace and healing for all those who have suffered from the sin and crime of the sexual abuse of minors, wherever it occurred,” the archdiocese’s statement said.

Reuters