Over 3,000 civil lawsuits have been filed since the Adult Survivors Act opened a one-year window for survivors of sexual abuse to file lawsuits in New York state that would have previously fallen outside the statute of limitations. Nine of the suits named Syracuse University as a defendant, according to the state’s database for lawsuits.
The ASA, signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in May 2022, allowed survivors to file lawsuits for a year starting on Nov. 24, 2022. Across the state, survivors filed a total of 110 separate lawsuits that named universities as defendants, including SU, Cornell University, Columbia University and several others.
Beth Fegan, a class action attorney for the FeganScott law firm, said laws like the ASA that have been passed across the country in recent years have made it far easier for survivors to come forward.
“It’s finally allowing the law to catch up to trauma,” Fegan said. “The law now recognizes that trauma has prevented the survivors from coming forward and provides the appropriate look-back window to allow them to do so.”
Fegan said when an individual is abused as a young adult, they might not have the ability to bring their cases forward immediately.
“It’s very hard as an 18 or 19-year-old away from home for the first time to understand what’s happening, to have the support network and feel safe to report the abuse,” Fegan said. “They don’t have the framework and the experience to know what’s right or wrong or to feel safe and come forward.”
On Nov. 21, FeganScott filed a lawsuit under the ASA alleging that Conrad Mainwaring, a former SU employee and graduate student, used his position as a “dorm counselor” for Brewster Hall to sexually abuse the plaintiff and other male students in the fall of 1982.
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