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Law Gives Victims Of Sex Abuse Better Chance To File Civil Lawsuits

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A new law has just gone into effect here in New York state opening a window of opportunity to file lawsuits regardless of when the abuse took place.

Lawsuits were filed just after midnight, right as that law took effect, reports CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas

The Catholic Church, Rockefeller University and the Boy Scouts have already been named in lawsuits.

On Tuesday, representatives from Safe Horizon were joined by lawmakers and advocates to unveil a public service announcement that raises awareness about New York's Child Victims Act.

The new law allows victims sexually abused as children a one-year "lookback window" to file a civil lawsuit regardless of their age now.

Survivors also have until the age of 28 to pursue criminal charges.

"If you in your depraved heart have the audacity to touch a child and, I don't care if it was 50 or 60 years ago, your day of reckoning is now," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Web Extra: Child Victims Act PSA Unveiled


Experts say the average age, according to the best science, of a victim coming forward about child sex abuse is age 52.

James Larney, 66, told CBS' Nikki Battiste when he was 13 years old, his then-priest, Monsignor Raphael Pakulniewicz, began sexually abusing him in the choir loft at Saint Anthony of Padua Church on Staten Island. He says the alleged abuse lasted about 18 months.

Larney says by the time he was ready to come forward, it was too late because the statute of limitations for any criminal or civil recourse had long passed. He is now suing the church and the archdiocese of New York. Pakulniewicz died in 2000.

After more than a decade fight in the state legislature, victims and advocates say their voice is finally being heard.

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