People who suffered sexual abuse years or even decades ago might have thought their trauma has been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. But the law that opened a window for lawsuits for past crimes is still valid in New York State. Now one survivor is trying to spread the word.
You might remember the Child Victim’s Act that was passed back in 2019. It opened up possibilities for victims of sexual abuse to bring lawsuits for crimes that were committed years back. Advocates are telling victims the law still gives them a chance for justice – even with the pandemic, court delays and bankruptcies by places such as the Boy Scouts of America and some Catholic Dioceses, that have been targets of abuse lawsuits.
Bridie Farrell was an Olympic hopeful speed skater when she was abused by a teammate. She finally came forward when she, as an adult, saw it happening again.
“There was a little girl in the rink and I thought, ‘my god. It’s just the same.’ When I was 15 I was molested by me 33-year-old teammate and I thought, ‘it’s the same thin, 15 or 20 years later.’ I’ll put myself out there, with all the awkwardness and uncomfortableness that comes with it. But if it protects the next generation, then it’s worth it to come forward.”
She’s now president of America Loves Kids, a non-profit helping survivors.
“Reach out to me. I’m happy to talk to people about how empowering and how liberating and how great it is to come forward and speak this truth. And I’m also going to tell you how it’s really tough to come forward and to have everyone know about it, your family know about it. There’s definitely two sides to the coin.”
Not everyone will choose to seek a lawsuit … but Farrell notes those who do can lift a burden often decades old.
“You don’t have to decide if you think yours is a valid case or not. There are lawyers out there willing to take these cases and our non-profit, America Loves Kids is connecting survivors with good counsel. But it’s an awkward thing because for us, for the first time in our lives, professionals are listening to us.”
The Child Victims act extended the statute of limitations for both criminal charges and civil… but also opened a window for any past abuse claims. That window was extended until August of 2021. Farrell says she ‘s dedicated to getting the word out so people can seek healing and justice.
CHILD VICTIMS ACT PROVISIONS
- Extend the statute of limitations to allow victims to bring up civil cases until they turn 55. ...
- Extend the statute of limitations for criminal cases to 28
- Implements new training for judges related to child abuse and sexual offenses
The above provisons are part of the law that stay in place after the open window for past abuse cases closes August 21, 2021.