Nearly 1,100 civil suits alleging sexual abuse have been filed in Long Island courts under a law that allowed victims to sue for crimes committed decades earlier, according to state records.
The two-year lookback window to file a claim under New York State’s Child Victims Act ended Friday with 10,857 cases filed statewide, according to records, which were released Tuesday.
In total, 672 claims were filed in Nassau County — the fourth-highest amount in the state, behind only Manhattan, Brooklyn and upstate Erie County — while 425 cases were filed in Suffolk, according to the state’s Office of Court Administration, which tracks the filings.
In the final week of the law’s eligibility, 1,617 new claims were filed statewide, including 149 in Nassau and 57 in Suffolk, according to OCA data.
"In a way it's a wonderful number because it means so many people came forward," said Jennifer Freeman, senior counsel at the Manhattan-based Marsh Law Firm, which filed nearly 500 cases under the Act that are currently pending in state court. "But in a way it's so sad because so many people had to come forward. I feel very conflicted about these numbers."
The law gave victims of child sex abuse two years to file civil complaints against their abusers — including both public and private institutions — even if the statute of limitations for alleged crimes had passed.
The act also extended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse victims to seek civil claims until they turned 55 and allowed them to seek criminal prosecution against their abuser until the age of 28. The prior age limit was 23.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre, home to 1.4 million Catholics in the Long Island region, declared bankruptcy in October 2020 as it faced hundreds of lawsuits under the act. Rockville Centre is the eighth-largest diocese in the country and is believed to be the largest to file for Chapter 11 reorganization due to payouts from the scandal.
The Boy Scouts of America also filed for bankruptcy as it faced claims of sexual abuse in multiple states, including New York.