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N.Y. Child Victims Act opens up hundreds of lawsuits

By Sommer Brokaw
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N.Y. Child Victims Act opens up hundreds of lawsuits
The Child Victims Act took effect Wednesday opening up a one-year window for those whose statute of limitations ran out to sue. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Hundreds of New Yorkers filed lawsuits Wednesday as a new window opened for them to file child sex abuse claims previously barred by statute of limitations.

The "lookback window" was established by the state's Child Victims Act, which took effect Wednesday after being signed by the governor in February.

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It provides one year for victims whose statute of limitations otherwise would have run out to file suits.

By early morning, lawyers had submitted 200 child sexual abuse lawsuits through electronic filing.

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Many more are expected by the end of the day with law firms telling Syracuse.com they would file nearly 1,000 suits Wednesday.

Some suits involve high-profile cases such as a woman alleging now deceased financier and multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein raped her as a teenager. The woman filed suit against his estate, his longtime confidante Ghislane Maxwell and three other unnamed woman who had worked for him.

Epstein had previously registered as a sex offender after taking a deal that took effect in 2008 where he pleaded guilty to procurement of minors for prostitution and served 13 months in jail.

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Eleven years later, he was charged with the sex trafficking crimes, which he pleaded not guilty to, and on Saturday he was found dead in a federal jail in New York City from an apparent suicide, which authorities are investigating.

Other lawsuits involve prominent organizations like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America.

One suit filed Wednesday accused former Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Albany Diocese of sexually abusing a 16-year-old in the 1990s. The suit cites Hubbard and the Rev. Paul Bondi of St. Mary's Paris in Balton Spa for alleged abuse.

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Other suits also alleged that numerous priests and personnel in the Albany Diocese and some Boy Scout leaders failed to protect children from abuse and further schemed to cover up the abuse.

With the onslaught of cases, the state Office of Court Administration has assigned 45 judges, including five in the Capital Region, to handle the lawsuits.

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