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How Can New York’s Child Victims Act Help Sexual Abuse Survivors Get Justice in Court?

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New York’s new Child Victims Act has allowed at least 639 sexual abuse survivors across the state to file civil suits against abusers and the institutions that protected those abusers, according to the New York State Unified Court System.

That number only accounts for cases filed from August 14, the day the law went into effect, to September 9.  Many more are expected because of the new law’s “look back” window of one year, letting anyone who was sexually violated or abused to bring a lawsuit no matter how long ago the incidents occurred.

“You can’t turn back the clock on what happened.  But New York State is now allowing survivors to hold the people accountable who victimized them, no matter when the crimes took place,” said John Dalli, partner in the law firm Dalli & Marino, LLP.  “Filing a civil lawsuit forces the abusers to answer for what they did as opposed to hiding in the shadows.”


Survivors would meet with an attorney to tell their stories, providing details as much as they can.  The attorney would then investigate the situation, such as locating and speaking with any witnesses who could corroborate your story.  Your law team should also look to see if your incident was a larger pattern of abuse in an institution or locale.  Your lawyer would also identify the parties who were negligent and/or abusive and file suit.

If your case goes to court, you have the opportunity to tell your story there.  If the alleged perpetrator is alive, he or she must answer questions under oath, under threat of perjury.  The typical timeframe for this type of lawsuit takes 2-3 years, but many of these cases could be decided by mediation instead of trials.


Your case is stronger if you have some documented evidence of the past abuse such as if you ever confided with a teacher, a physician or friend.  However, nobody talked about this taboo topic until recent years.  It’s understood that this may be the first time that you’ve talked about your experience.

“The more facts, the better.  But if you only have your testimony, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a case,” Dalli added.  “You have a right to a trial by a jury who will determine if your story is truthful and who is ultimately responsible under the law.”


If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, call the law firm of Dalli & Marino for a free, confidential case evaluation.  Our attorneys have extensive experience fighting on behalf of those who have been subject to abuse.  You can contact us by phone at 1-888-465-8790 [Toll-Free] or complete the CASE EVALUATION FORM on our Contact Page.

Our mission since 1996 has been to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.  We’ve seen how institutions such as schools, hospitals and nursing facilities have used their power to avoid their responsibilities.  We know how to hold these institutions accountable for ignoring these crimes and prioritizing their reputations above children’s safety.  Our team serves Suffolk and Nassau Counties (Long Island), Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Westchester County.

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