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News broke today that the largest scouting organization in the United States has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to declining membership and a growing number of child sex abuse claims. The Boy Scouts of America has faced allegations of sex abuse for many years, but a flood gate of sex abuse lawsuits were opened in 2019 after a more than a dozen states changed their laws to extend the statute of limitations for such claims. New York is one of those states.
In 2019, New York passed the Child Victims Act, giving child sex abuse victims more time to file a civil suit for monetary damages. Previously, a person who was sexually abused as a child (under 18) had until they turned 23-years-old to file a personal injury claim against his or her abuser and any other liable third party. A liable third party may be an individual or organizations who should have done something to prevent or stop the abuse from happening, but did not. Under the new law, child sex abuse victims have until they turn 55 to bring such suits.
In addition, for one year—between August 14, 2019 and August 13, 2020—civil child sex abuse claims may be filed by victims of any age (even over 55) and without regard to how far back the abuse occurred. Even if the victim previously filed a claim which was dismissed as barred by the old statute of limitations, a second lawsuit may be filed under the new law.
Since the new law went into effect, hundreds of child sex abuse lawsuits and private claims have been made against alleged abusers and institutions faulted with not preventing the abuse.
LDE represents victims of child sex abuse.