New York State is facing criticism for what some perceive as a neglect of the rights of the accused due to the implementation of the Adult Survivors Act in November 2022. The law, designed to empower victims of sexual assault, allows individuals to file lawsuits against alleged abusers without a statute of limitations, providing a one-year window for such claims. However, critics argue that this approach undermines the rights of defendants, as it becomes challenging to recall details and assemble evidence for events that may have transpired many years ago. Notable figures, including Jamie Foxx, Axl Rose, Mayor Adams, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, and former President Donald Trump, have been targeted in over 3,000 lawsuits since the law’s enactment.
The removal of the statute of limitations has sparked concerns about fairness, with some calling for a restoration of limitations, possibly set at five years. Critics argue that the law, intended to support sexual abuse victims, is resulting in potential injustices by placing the burden on defendants to prove their innocence even for events that occurred decades ago. Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz questions the feasibility of expecting people to remember details from the distant past. While sexual abuse victims deserve justice, critics argue that the Adult Survivors Act risks tilting the scales by favoring accusers over defendants.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins expressed support for the Adult Survivors Act, emphasizing a belief in victims. However, critics argue that justice should involve a fair and balanced legal process, considering both the accuser and the accused. Some lawmakers, influenced by the #MeToo movement and trial lawyers, are reportedly considering further extensions of the statute of limitations, or potentially eliminating it altogether, raising concerns about the erosion of defendants’ rights. The debate continues over finding a balance between addressing the needs of victims and ensuring fair legal proceedings for those accused of wrongdoing.