Every act of child abuse has the potential to affect that child for the rest of his or her life. This is especially true of child sexual abuse. Nevertheless, child sex abuse is pervasive in our society.
One reason survivors of child sexual abuse feel they receive little justice has been that statutes of limitation have protected abusers. Survivors of child sexual abuse often can’t come to terms with what was done to them for years or even decades. When they have, it has often been too late to prosecute or sue their abusers.
That is why New York passed the Child Victims Act in 2019. It lifted the statute of limitations on lawsuits against child abusers. Originally, the statute of limitations was lifted for just a year, but that was extended. Now, adult survivors of child sexual abuse can file lawsuits against their abusers in an effort to get some accountability.
If you need to file a claim, the new deadline is August 14.
According to the New York Post, over 5,100 such cases have already been filed around the state, with almost half being filed in New York City.
The Post detailed the allegations against a number of prominent New York institutions, including the late Rudy Tremaroli, a basketball coach at Our Lady of Mount Carmel school. He is accused of molesting hundreds of little boys and also of making child porn using those children. Despite years of abuse reports against Tremaroli, he was never removed from the school, church or community center, leading some to believe he was actively protected from any consequences for his crimes.
Another facility where child sexual abuse appears to have been common is the Children’s Village in Westchester. The all-boys child welfare agency is accused of allowing staff and older kids to physically and sexually abuse kids during the 70s, 80s and 90s. At least one survivor of Children’s Village was adopted by one of his abusers.
“Children’s Village was a nightmare,” he said to the Post. “I was incarcerated in 1998. Prison was easier in my lifetime than the Children’s Village.”
A Children’s Village spokesperson did not directly address the allegations, of which there are at least 28. “Every child deserves and needs to feel safe, secure, and supported,” the spokesman said. “We take significant and wide-reaching steps to ensure that’s what every child in our care can count on every day.”
Institutions, churches and clubs have not always been safe for children
Other examples of New York institutions accused of allowing child sexual abuse to occur include The Boys’ Club of New York, the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America, Rockefeller University and various New York City schools, among many others.
The reality is that there are people who prey on children sexually, and they often seek out institutions where there are many children available to target. They may choose to be teachers, coaches or community leaders in order to access their victims.
Many survivors of child sexual abuse wrongly take the blame for what happened. This is a tragedy in its own way, as taking the blame often extends the period of time before a survivor feels able to come forward and speak out.
The Child Victims Act is meant to help child sex abuse survivors hold their abusers to account for what they did.