ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — For a year, a special New York law set the stage for a wave of headline-grabbing lawsuits against famous men accused of sexual misconduct, including former President Donald Trump, hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs and actor Comedian and actor Russell Brand.
But when the Adult Survivors Act expires after Thanksgiving, it will also lead to numerous legal claims by women who say they were sexually assaulted while serving time in New York prisons.
More than 2,500 lawsuits have been filed so far under the law, suspending the usual one-year time limit for filing a lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault.
Some of these lawsuits have targeted employers, or institutions such as hospitals, who are accused of failing to do enough to stop abuses by doctors or other workers. However, the vast majority of them have been brought against the state, New York City and local counties and involve allegations of mistreatment in state prisons and local prison systems.
Survivors described it as a chance to finally have their voice heard.
“For a long time, I didn’t have a voice. I thought it didn’t matter. Like, who was I?” “I have to keep moving forward with this because it’s important,” said Alexandria Johnson, who says she was raped multiple times while incarcerated in state prison and a New York City jail. …There are a lot of stories, a lot, and not just mine.
After Thursday, people will again be drawn into the abuse they suffered many years ago.
New York was one of several states to reconsider laws in recent years that set time limits on civil legal claims stemming from sexual assault, although they are usually for people who were abused as children. Advocates say New York’s current window gives traumatized adults an opportunity to seek accountability from major institutions and powerful men who can use their wealth and position to protect themselves.
“The reason we fought so hard for this bill is because trauma takes time,” said Liz Roberts, CEO of Safe Horizon.
Exact statistics for Adult Survivors Act filings were not yet available this week, but there were at least 2,587 electronic filings in state courts, with some lawsuits filed on behalf of multiple people. More than half of those requests were prison-related claims against the state. Hundreds of additional files were named to the New York City Department of Corrections.
This law is modeled on a previous law in New York offering people who were abused as children a Temporary window To submit claims. By the time the Child Victims Act’s two-year window closed in August 2021, nearly 11,000 people had filed lawsuits, many of them involving the Roman Catholic Church.
governor. Kathy Hochul said the initial law I forgot “People who have experienced the same type of abuse as adults. I signed a new law that opens a one-year window for adult survivors on November 24, 2022.
A series of high-profile lawsuits followed.
One of the first lawsuits filed after the window opened was against Trump. Jury in May I found the former president responsible He was accused of sexually assaulting writer E. Jane Carroll in 1996 and awarded her $5 million. Trump has denied this allegation.
It was Harvey Weinstein A lawsuit was filed last month by actress Julia OrmondShe accused the former film producer of sexually assaulting her in 1995 and then obstructing her career. Weinstein, who was convicted of rape in New York and California, denied the accusations through his lawyer.
Grammy Award-winning music executive Antonio “LA” Reed A lawsuit has been filed against Drew Dixon, who worked for Reid when he was CEO of Arista Records. She says Reed sexually assaulted her twice in 2001, including an incident on a private plane. No attorney for Reed was listed in the electronic filings.
Combs was charged In a lawsuit By R&B singer Cassie last week for subjecting her to a long-term relationship that included battery and rape. The two artists Settlement announced One day after deposit. Combs denied the allegations.
Brand was accused in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting an extra during the filming of the movie “Arthur” in 2010. British media reported last September Claims of four women Who said they were sexually assaulted by Brand, who says their relationships were “always consensual.”
It was Bill Cosby Defendant in a lawsuit of sexually assaulting a young female comedy writer more than 50 years ago. Joan Tarshis First he rose The allegations against Cosby in 2014 Which is in the new lawsuit. Cosby’s spokesman did not address the details of Tarshis’ allegations, but asked about recent lawsuits against famous men: “When are they going to stop?”
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they agree to be identified or decide to tell their stories publicly, as Carroll, Ormond, Dixon, Tarshis and Casey did.
Many of the lawsuits allege assaults by relatively unknown people in everyday settings. One woman claimed in a lawsuit against a spa that it was founded by a masseuse. Another woman who checked in airline passengers suffered abuse from her employer at the hands of her manager.
The emergence of lawsuits alleging assaults behind bars illustrates what attorney Adam Slater described as a “widespread and systemic” issue of assaults on prisoners. His company said it has filed more than 1,200 complaints alleging abuse in state prisons and more than 470 complaints alleging abuse in New York City jails. Rikers Island complicated.
Anna Cole, who represents Johnson, expects to file as many as 600 cases related to assaults in prisons and jails.
“There are a surprising number of cases in which correctional officers have sexually assaulted female inmates,” Cole said.
Johnson’s lawsuit against New York City says she was raped in her cell at Rikers Island by four corrections officers in 2014 while being held on a parole violation on a drug charge. A separate lawsuit against the state said she was raped multiple times by a guard in 2015 at a state prison north of the city while she was pregnant. The lawsuit says the latest assault caused her waters to break prematurely and led to the loss of her baby.
Johnson said she is still in shock.
“I had big dreams, hopes that we would go to preschool and get me out and raise my son and get my life together,” she said. “They took that from me.”
Lawyers representing the state and city denied the allegations in court filings and asked for both lawsuits to be dismissed. The city and state corrections departments have separately said they have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault.
Dozens of people used medical providers in place of abusive doctors in the past year.
Attorney Mallory Allen represents more than 100 men who say they were sexually assaulted by Dr. Darius Paduch, a New York-area urologist who specializes in male reproductive health. Badoch He also faces criminal charges He was accused of mistreating patients.
One former patient, James O’Connell, said he ran into the hospital system over alleged abuse by Paduch after he saw an early morning television ad for a law firm seeking potential plaintiffs. He hopes his work will help bring about change.
“I have nephews. I have a son. If I can do something to make sure there’s a much lower chance of anything like this happening to them, I will do whatever I need to do,” O’Connell said.