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New York waived the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse suits for a year. Should other states follow suit?

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A Safe Horizon PSA about the Adult Survivors Act plays in Times Square during a press conference on the new law, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in New York.

Last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York signed the Adults Survivors Act. This legislation allowed a temporary one-year look-back window in which adult survivors of sexual assault could file lawsuits against their assailants, regardless of when the assault occurred. 

While the act was in place between Nov. 24, 2022, and Nov. 24, 2023, over 3,000 lawsuits were filed, according to the New York Times. Politicians, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and celebrities like Sean “Diddy” Combs had suits filed against them, as did institutions like Columbia University hospitals and Rikers Island, where plaintiffs said they suffered sexual abuse at the hands of staff.

Before this, adult survivors had 20 years to file civil cases against their perpetrators, but only if the assault occurred after 2019, which is when New York extended its statute of limitations for cases. Survivors assaulted before 2019 only had a year to file a suit.

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