On May 9, 2023, a Manhattan jury found former President Donald J. Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll and awarded her $5 million in damages. Ms. Carroll was able to bring these claims of sexual abuse from approximately 30 years ago, even though the statute of limitations had long passed. This was because New York passed the Adult Survivors Act to allow a one-time window, which closes on November 23, 2023, for individuals to bring civil claims related to sexual assaults, regardless of when they occurred.
New York is not the only state to adopt new laws to permit civil accountability for sexual abusers whose acts might otherwise be time barred. This year, California passed the Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, which opens up a three-year “lookback window” for survivors of assaults that occurred between January 1, 2009 and January 1, 2019, permitting survivors to file civil claims for sexual assault through December 31, 2026. For assaults that occurred after January 1, 2019, this new California law allows survivors to file a claim within ten years from the date of the sexual assault or within three years from finding out they were injured because of the sexual assault. In addition to these adult survivor protections, dozens of states have passed laws allowing lookback windows for child survivors of sexual abuse.
This new framework of allowing survivors to pursue civil claims long after the abuse occurred is representative of an important shift in how society views sexual assault, with much greater emphasis being placed on abuser accountability. In a post #MeToo era, survivors are coming forward in droves to finally face their attackers and demand justice. Ms. Carroll’s historic win against former President Trump has shown us that accountability can be achieved even 30 years later.
If you have been sexually assaulted in New York or California, regardless of when it happened, you should contact an attorney to discuss your situation.
At Outten & Golden, we are committed to helping victims of sexual assault. If you have questions about New York’s Adult Survivors Act and/or California’s Sexual Abuse and Cover-Up Accountability Act, please contact the firm through the “Contact Us” form to begin the Outten & Golden intake process.