Hiring a New York Sex Abuse Lawyer
Child sex abuse is a horrific crime that can have long-term effects on young children. Most child sexual abuse victims don’t even come to terms with the fact that they were sexually abused until years later. Often, decades pass before victims of sexual abuse realize that they have a claim for money damages against their abusers. Previous New York law would have barred past victims from bringing a claim, but the new laws in New York have made it possible for sexual abuse survivors to come forward and seek the justice they deserve by hiring a New York Sex Abuse Lawyer.
What is considered Sexual Abuse in New York?
Sexual abuse generally refers to a pattern of inappropriate sexual acts against another person. Sexual abuse means any type of sexual conduct that is unwelcome. Physical contact is not required for a person to be sexually abused. Under New York law, a child can never consent to sexual activity. Examples of sexual abuse include making a child watch an adult masturbate, having a child perform sexual acts with an adult, or forcing a child to participate in child pornography. Forcing a child to participate in any sexual conduct is sexual and emotional abuse.
The New York legal system has varying levels of punishment for different types of sex crimes. For example, sexual misconduct has occurred “where a male engages in sexual intercourse with a female without her consent; a person engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person without the latter’s consent, or a person engages in sexual conduct with an animal or with a dead human body.” The crime of sexual misconduct is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a full year in prison. Other sex crimes include third-, second-, and first-degree rape, with a punishment of up to 4 years, 7 years, and 25 years, respectively, in prison. Additional legislation defines varying degrees of sexual abuse with varying levels of punishment, including predatory sexual assault, predatory sexual assault against a child, sexual conduct against a child, statutory rape, criminal sexual act, forcible touching, persistent sexual abuse, and aggravated sexual abuse.
Who is affected by sex abuse?
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, culture, race, socioeconomic background, etc. Sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault, no matter what. For young people in the United States, about one-third of all girls and one-fourth of all boys will experience sexual abuse in some form before the age of 18.
Who are the perpetrators of sex abuse?
Unlike random sexual assault, more than 90% of sexual abuse victims know their offenders. Sex abuse perpetrators don’t come with scary warning signs. In fact, most child sex abusers are often family members or other fellow New Yorkers in a position of trust. Individuals that may commit sexual offenses can be parents, uncles, aunts, physicians, sports coaches, scout leaders, an employer, or leaders in public institutions, private institutions, and religious institutions.
Rudy Tremaroli, a coach and janitor at Lady of Mount Carmel Church and School in the Bronx, and Dr. Reginald Archibald, a doctor at New York’s Rockefeller University Hospital, abused hundreds of children throughout their careers. Dr. Robert Hadden, a former gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, has been accused of sexually assaulting multiple adult patients during their examinations.
Signs of Child Sex Abuse
Although child sex abuse is sometimes difficult to detect, there are certain signs to look out for. One clear sign of child sex abuse is when a child has visible tears, bruises, redness, or swelling in their genital areas. A child may also suddenly start acting anxious or fearful. If your child actively tries to avoid being alone with a certain adult, that may be a sign that the adult is sexually abusing the child. Other signs that stem from the emotional trauma of sexual abuse may include depression, anxiety, mental health issues, aggressive behavior and unexplained rage, substance abuse, engaging in sexually risky behaviors, poor grades in school, eating disorders, and acts of harm such as cutting oneself.
How can you prove child sex abuse in New York if the abuse happened years ago?
In a civil case in New York, the burden of proof for showing that sexual abuse happened is by the preponderance of the evidence. If the abuse happened years ago, and there is no longer any physical evidence of the abuse, then cases often turn on the victim’s testimony. If you are an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, you can still bring a claim.
Who can be held responsible for sex abuse in New York?
In a sex abuse lawsuit, you can bring a claim against the person who abused you. The person who abused you may be an employee of a church, sports club, hospital, or other community organization that works with children. If you can show that the organization knew or should have known about the abuse, then you can also sue the organization that the abuser worked for. In recent years, investigations have brought to light the systemic sex abuse that was happening to children in major institutions.
When it comes to child sexual abuse, most people think of the sex abuse scandal involving priests in the Roman Catholic church. In 2002, when more than half of Bostonians were practicing Catholics, the Boston Globe newspaper ran an explosive story about the Catholic church’s institutional cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests. Since then, many victims of childhood sexual abuse have come forward with stories of the horrific abuse they suffered at the hands of a priest. View our New York Predator Priest Index for details on accused priests by diocese.
A similar cover-up by the Boy Scouts of America has also been in the news. In the past several decades, several abuse survivors have come forward with heart-wrenching stories of abuse by troop leaders. Other prime hunting grounds for sexual predators are in child daycare centers, private schools, public schools, nursing homes, and cruise ships.
Can I receive compensation for sexual assault or sexual abuse in New York?
Yes. New York law considers sexual abuse a serious crime. The law allows victims of sexual assault or abuse to receive financial compensation for the terrible abuse they suffered at the hands of their abuser. New York law allows financial compensation for the costs incurred as a result of the abuse, such as therapy, counseling, treatment centers, medical treatment, and lost wages due to missed work because of the emotional trauma from the abuse.
Healing from sexual abuse is often a life-long journey. While no amount of money will take away the pain you’ve experienced from being abused, the monetary award from a civil lawsuit can help pay for the treatment you need to heal fully through this tough time. In addition to economic damages, New York law also recognizes that sexual abuse causes intense emotional pain and suffering, so the law allows damages for this type of intangible injury as well. An experienced sexual abuse attorney will help fight for your right to receive the maximum compensation from others.
What should I do if I was sexually abused or if a loved one was sexually abused in New York?
If you were sexually abused or if a loved one was abused, you need to report the abuse as soon as possible to local law enforcement and to local sexual abuse centers. The State of New York has established a hotline to call to report sexual abuse. You can also visit the New York City Police Department’s website, which provides a list of resources and services for crime victims. The New York Attorney General also has a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Resource Guide on its website.
If the abuse just happened, the first step is to report it and then get to a safe place. Don’t bathe, brush your teeth, shower, or do anything that would remove any DNA evidence. Write down all of the details of what happened to you. Take photographs of any of your injuries. Finally, contact an experienced sex abuse law firm as soon as possible for legal consultation. They can help guide you through every step of the legal process of seeking justice.
How can a New York sex abuse attorney help me?
An experienced New York sex abuse attorney can be invaluable in helping you seek just financial compensation for your abuse. First, the attorney will listen to your story with compassion and understanding in a confidential consultation. Your attorney will also gather the relevant information and evidence in your case and communicate with other parties, including taking witness and expert testimonies. Your attorney will also research the time limits for bringing your case and will assess what your claim is worth. Finally, the attorney will file a civil lawsuit on your behalf in the proper court.
The experienced sexual abuse lawyers at Herman Law restore power to victims of sexual abuse. Our entire team serves as powerful advocates for our clients, advising them how to move forward to receive just compensation from their abusers. During the initial process of about thirty days, the attorneys at Herman Law will develop your case by offering legal advice, discussing the strategy you want to take, and implementing that strategy by collecting all relevant evidence through our Special Investigative Unit. We will work with you through the entire process, from beginning to end, to seek justice for the abuse.
Can I file a criminal lawsuit against my abuser in New York?
Yes. There are two ways to seek justice against your abuser. The first is through a criminal action. This is a case brought by the government against your abuser. It is crucial for you to contact local law enforcement officials to initiate your criminal case. When you report the crime, the law enforcement officials then bring criminal charges and a criminal investigation against the alleged perpetrator. A criminal case is between the government and the accused sexual offender. If the government shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person sexually abused you, the person will be found guilty. The criminal justice system has punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation as its goals, so the person convicted of sexually abusing you will likely serve a lengthy prison sentence.
Aside from a criminal case, another way to seek justice against your abuser is by filing a civil lawsuit. Unlike a criminal case, which requires the government to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused person committed sexual abuse, in a civil action, your burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence. For the jury verdict, you have to convince 51% of a jury that the defendant sexually abused you. This is a much lower burden than the burden required in a criminal case. Most civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse are filed years after the abuse occurred. Much of the physical evidence may have been lost, and memories have faded. Sometimes, sexual abuse claims depend solely on the testimony of the victims. This is why it’s sometimes better to recover damages from your abuser through civil claims, where the burden of proof is lower, than trying to seek justice through the criminal courts. Adult survivors of childhood sex abuse can seek monetary compensation for the abuse they endured in civil court.
Since sexual abuse is a type of personal injury, every state has laws that set out deadlines, called “statutes of limitations,” for when you can file a civil lawsuit based on a personal injury. Most states’ statutes of limitations are within 2 to 5 years of when the personal injury occurred. With sexual abuse, however, the victim often doesn’t even fully understand that they were abused until many years later. Most victims of sexual abuse were victimized when they were children. Survivors often don’t come to terms with the fact that they were abused until well into adulthood.
Thanks to the new rights, you may be entitled to take legal action even if the abuse occurred many years ago. Contact the experienced legal team at Herman Law to learn about your legal options. You do not have to go through this difficult time alone.
Can a Lawyer Help me File Under the New York Child Victims Act?
In recognizing this unique aspect of sexual abuse and its impact on victims of child abuse, many states have recently passed laws that allow survivors of sexual abuse to file a civil lawsuit against their abusers. New York State has joined in this important movement by passing a law in 2019 that allows survivors of sexual abuse who would otherwise be time-barred to a certain amount of time to file a civil lawsuit. Under New York’s Child Victims Act, you have a year look-back window until August 13, 2021, to file a civil lawsuit against your sexual abuser or anyone else who may be liable. The Act also provides that criminal charges may be brought against a sexual abuser until the victim turns 28 years old. If the child abuse victim was under 11 years old, there is no statute of limitations for the government to bring criminal charges. The Child Victim’s Act, signed by Governor Cuomo, also gets rid of the requirement to file a notice of claim for a sexual offense against a minor and requires judges to participate in training in child sexual abuse cases.
Under the New York Child Victim’s Act, survivors of child sexual abuse may now bring a civil lawsuit against their abuser or a third party, such as a church, school, or sports club, until they’re 55 years old. For people whose claims have been time-barred, New York’s Child Victims Act allows anyone, no matter what their age is or when the sexual abuse happened, to bring a civil lawsuit until August 13, 2021. This deadline is rapidly approaching, so survivors of sexual abuse should contact an experienced sexual abuse lawyer today to protect their legal rights.
Update November 2022 – The window for the NY Child Victims Act is now closed. However, in May 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act that created a one-year lookback window for sexual assault survivors that occurred when they were over 18 to sue their abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred. This window opened on November 24, 2022, and closes on November 23, 2023. Contact the team of New York sex abuse attorneys at Herman Law for a free case evaluation.
When should I contact an experienced New York sex abuse law firm?
If you were a victim of sexual abuse, you need to contact an experienced sex abuse attorney as soon as possible. It’s important to obtain an attorney while evidence and memories are still fresh. You also want to make sure that your civil lawsuit is filed before New York’s new statute of limitations runs out. Remember, the New York Child Victims’ Act allows victims of sexual abuse to file a lawsuit regardless of how long ago the abuse happened. This opportunity will expire soon, though, as the deadline is August 13, 2021. If someone sexually abused you, contact an experienced New York sex abuse lawyer now to learn about your legal rights.
Contact Herman Law for a free case evaluation.