“The defendant is not the first to make this argument, which every New York state and federal court has refused to confront,” the federal judge wrote in the 46-page decision. It has been repeatedly rejected for good reasons.”
“I see this ruling as very important, as another step in terms of really recognizing the survivors’ right to take their case to court,” said Liz Roberts, CEO of Safe Horizon, which has advocated for the law for years.
The idea of the Child Victims Act was that many victims of child sexual abuse take years to speak out about their trauma, and that the law would give them a chance to finally spend their day in court.
“For many survivors, it feels like an opportunity to get some kind of public social recognition of the horrific abuse they’ve experienced, to confront the person who abused them, or the institution, and to really talk about what really happened to them, and in some cases you’ll get reparations for what happened to them,” Roberts said. They suffered.
The review window opened in August 2019 and closed in August 2021. More than 10,600 child sexual abuse lawsuits were filed in New York in that period, according to New York Courts spokesperson Lucien Chalvin.
Prince Andrew denied the allegations. He can still choose to appeal the ruling.
Why did the judge uphold the Child Victims Act
In his ruling issued Wednesday, Kaplan cited a handful of cases in which justices rejected that constitutional argument. He described the review period in the Child Victims Act as “a reasonable measure to address the injustice and within the confines of the new legal standard that was clarified shortly before it was passed.”
These windows of review, also known as statute of limitations revival statutes, have long been viewed as constitutional, said Barry Salzman, an attorney who has represented pro bono sexual assault survivors in cases against the clergy and Epstein. He told CNN that the prince’s argument against the law would fail.
“I honestly don’t think it’s a strong argument and I don’t think it will ever be dropped,” he said.
Salzman praised the judge’s ruling and said he was happy to see the case moving forward.
“As an attorney who has defended victims for many years, I am really pleased to see legislation like the CVA Act that truly allowed all these survivors to spend their day in court,” he said. “I think it really speaks to more openness or acceptance in our society for these people to believe.”
Roberts, too, said Safe Horizon has championed the law for a decade, and lawyers have crafted the language of the law closely. She said the argument that the defendants lost due process was “disingenuous”.
“All the law does is give them a chance to appear in court,” she said. “They still have to prove their case.” “The accused has access to all the usual protections in court as a defendant in the lawsuit.”
CNN’s Sonia Moggi and Emanuela Greenberg contributed to this report.