People who have been sexually abused as adults will have a chance to prosecute the perpetrators, even if the normal deadline to bring a lawsuit has expired in the New York legislature under the motion-seeking bill.
Albany, NY – People who have been sexually abused as adults will have a chance to prosecute offenders, even if the normal deadline to bring a lawsuit has expired in the New York legislature under the motion-seeking bill.
The bill, called the Adult Survivors Act, would give abuse survivors a one-year window in which to bring trials that would otherwise be barred by the state’s statute of limitations.
A similar window created in 2019 for victims of childhood sexual abuse sparked an avalanche of lawsuits against priests, teachers, Boy Scout leaders and others over decades-old misconduct allegations.
Supporters of doing the same thing for adults include 41-year-old Marissa Hochstetter, who said she is among more than 200 women who say she was sexually assaulted by former New York gynecologist Robert A. Hayden. Other Hayden charges include Evelyn Yang, wife of New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.
Hayden, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Surrendered his medical license in a 2016 plea deal with Vance Jr., for which he did not require any jail time.
In September, federal prosecutors accused Hayden of assaulting girls and women for nearly two decades under the guise of a medical examination. Hayden pleaded not guilty. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. His trial is scheduled for next year.
Some of Hayden’s defendants who were minors at the time of the alleged misconduct have been able to litigate in courts under the New York Historic Child Victims Act.
Hochstetter said it’s time for New York to move beyond the “arbitrary” 18-year limit, and allow adults to spend their days in court.
“The legislature has already recognized that it takes time to come forward and report the trauma,” Hochstetter said. “I believe it is now appropriate to include only those who were assaulted over the age of 18 … We are not asking for the state, the legislature, on the merits of our allegations. Is weighing in. We are demanding access to the courts. “
In 2019, New York extended the statute of limitations for lawsuits on rape and some other criminal sex acts to 20 years from the previous five years. But that legal change did not apply retroactively to crimes committed years ago.
According to a spokesman for Senate leader Andrea Stewart-Cajins, the Senate is set to vote on the Adult Survivors Act sometime next week.
Survivors and advocacy groups, including Safe Horizon and the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, are lobbying on behalf of the victims.
More than 5,200 New Yorkers have filed lawsuits against abusers under the Child Victims Act, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brad Hoyleman and Assemblyman Linda Rosenthal. Both Democrats are now sponsoring the Adult Survivors Act.
Those lawsuits have financially devastated many Roman Catholic dioceses in the state who have filed for bankruptcy, as did the Boy Scouts of America, which also faced a flood of suits.
It is not clear whether there is much organized opposition to the bill.
Historically, time limits exist for civil lawsuits as fair trial becomes difficult as time passes. memories fade. The proof has been lost. Witnesses die or become difficult to find.
Hochstetter said he hoped MPs would take action.
“People keep coming forward and it’s heartbreaking when I have to say to them: ‘There’s nothing you can do,'” she said.
Hochstetter first started seeing Hayden – who was her best friend’s uncle from college – in her early thirties during her pregnancy with twins.
“His behavior was increasingly bizarre,” she said. “Really invasive questions, really long breast exams, often no one in the room.”
She said she once “licked” him during an exam: “I froze and I never went back.”