Governor signs Adult Survivors Act, allowing victims to sue abusers without statute of limitations

Posted 24 May 2022 at 1:57 pm

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed the Adult Survivors Act (S.66A/A.648A), creating a one-year lookback window for survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were over the age of 18 to sue their abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred.

“Today, we take an important step in empowering survivors across New York to use their voices and hold their abusers accountable,” Governor Hochul said. “The fight against sexual assault requires us to recognize the impact of trauma within our justice system. I am proud to sign this legislation, which is part of our collective responsibility to protect one another and create an environment that makes survivors feel safe. While our work is not done, eradicating sexual assault begins with our ability to bring the perpetrators of these heinous acts to justice and this legislation is a historic step forward.”

In 2019, New York passed the Child Victims Act, which created a one-year lookback window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations.

Similar to the Child Victims Act, the Adult Survivors Act will empower survivors of sexual offenses that occurred when they were over the age of 18. The one-year window will begin six months from signing and will allow survivors to sue regardless of the statute of limitations. For many survivors, it may take years to come to terms with the trauma of sexual assault and feel ready to seek justice against an abuser, while possibly experiencing fear of retaliation or shame.

In 2019, New York extended the statute of limitations to 20 years for adults filing civil lawsuits for a select number of sex crimes. However, that legislation only affected new cases and was not retroactive.

Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault Joanne Zannoni said, “Sexual assault survivors often need time before they are ready to come forward. The Adult Survivors Act offers a window of opportunity for survivors to hold their abusers accountable. This can be an important part of survivors’ healing.”