The news of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking charges have sent shockwaves around the globe. And while the billionaire's possible (delayed) comeuppance has his past accusers feeling hopeful, a new state law could give survivors of Epstein's alleged abuse in New York a renewed opportunity to seek justice.
The Child Victims Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February, grants survivors of child sexual assault more time to go after their abusers. Under the new law, which goes into effect August 14, survivors will be able to pursue criminal felony charges until they turn 28, and file a civil lawsuit before age 55. It also creates a one-year window for survivors of any age "during which presently time-barred civil claims could be revived." Currently, New York state law has one of the most restrictive statutes of limitations for child molestation in the country, giving survivors until age 23 to file criminal or civil lawsuits. Many of Epstein’s past accusers are now in their late 20s and 30s.
Anybody with a credible claim against Epstein (or his associates like Dershowitz, DJT), my firm will rep pro bono. #ChildVictimsAct is new NY law for victims of child sex abuse. It ignores statute of limitations for a one year window starting Aug 14, 2019 so victims can sue.
— Carrie A. Goldberg (@cagoldberglaw) July 8, 2019
Attorney Carrie A. Goldberg, whose firm is known for taking on "pervs, assholes, psychos, and trolls, " put out an offer on Twitter to represent New York-based survivors of Epstein’s or his associates’. "I feel deeply connected to this case," Goldberg told Refinery29 in an interview. "Epstein had a home here in New York, and he was free to continue preying on minors. These are the same law enforcers I rely on every single day to bring justice to my clients' offenders and who consistently refuse to prosecute," she said, referring to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who failed to prosecute Harvey Weinstein in 2015 and downgraded Epstein's sex offender status. "They are inept at holding men in power accountable." Goldberg also represents Lucia Evans and Paz de la Huerta, two of Weinstein’s accusers.
For survivors of child sexual abuse, the Child Victims Act provides an opportunity for justice that they may previously have found out of reach, Goldberg said. Although the "lookback window" doesn’t go into effect until August, she said her firm has been sending out demand letters to its clients’ offenders and has recovered $850,000 for one client. (A non-Epstein-related client; she said she hasn't been contacted by any of his accusers yet.)
In addition to seeking financial restitution for those who allege Epstein abused them, the discovery portion of these lawsuits could bring to the surface other dirty secrets that prosecutors could be hiding, she said.
"We live in a society where we totally accept people's right to sue for a car wreck or injury on a public playground — yet when crimes are intentional and involve gender-based or sexual violence, victims who demand justice of their offenders are waved away as opportunists, liars, crazies, gold diggers, media whores," Goldberg said. "It’s a disgusting double standard."
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