Hundreds of sexual abuse claims filed in New York as statute of limitations law takes effect
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Hundreds of sexual abuse claims were filed in New York Wednesday on the first day new legislation went into effect extending the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to bring cases against alleged perpetrators. 

A one-year window opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for those alleging sexual abuse claims to file charges under the state’s Child Victims Act, which the New York state legislature approved in January. The law raises the statute of limitations for bring sexual abuse charges, allowing victims to bring charges until they are 55, instead of 23 under previous state law. 

By 5 a.m., lawyers in the state had already submitted 200 child sexual abuse lawsuits, USA Today reported. Approximately 350 claims were filed by 8:30 a.m., and 385 were filed by noon. 

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The majority of lawsuits were filed against Catholic priests, dioceses and parishes. In one county, 35 of 36 total cases filed were against the Catholic diocese there, according to USA Today.

The Boy Scouts of America were named in at least four cases, as were two other religious faiths and at least five public schools. 

A woman named Jennifer Danielle Araoz filed a lawsuit in Manhattan against the estate of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide in jail last week. Araoz alleges that Epstein assaulted her when she was 15 and 16, enabled by Epstein’s alleged associate Ghislaine Maxwell and three other women who are not publicly identified.

More than a dozen law firms that represent children in sexual abuse cases have been working with clients for months, according to USA Today. Some estimate that 2,000 to 3,000 cases of child sexual assault will be filed in the coming year. 

The law also allows people to bring charges against people who the victim has never accused publicly, as well as those whom they have accused but their cases were dismissed under the old statute of limitations laws. 

Each New York judicial district has named judges that will not handle any cases except those that are filed under the new law.

If you are a sexual assault survivor you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or reach it online at hotline.rainn.org/online