Seeking Justice Under New York City's Gender-Motivated Violence Law

If you are a survivor of gender-based violence, even if it happened years or decades ago, it is worth your while to contact a knowledgeable New York City sexual harassment lawyer and discover more about the options out there for you. Many people know that from November 24, 2022, to November 24, 2023, the Adult Survivors Act provided a crucial opportunity for survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse to seek justice for events that happened many years ago. Even though the state law's window has closed, some survivors may still have other options available to them under New York City law.

For instance, the Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Law was enacted several years ago and sexual assault is almost always actionable under this law. The law's statute of limitations originally gave survivors seven years in which to bring legal actions.

However, in early 2022, the city enacted an amendment to the law which created a two-year "lookback" period (similar to the Adult Survivors Act's lookback period) during which survivors may sue even if their cases would otherwise have been barred by the statute of limitations.

The lookback period is currently in effect and will not close until Feb. 28, 2025. If you believe you may have a claim, you should not delay in speaking with a knowledgeable attorney.

Potentially Broader Coverage than the Adult Survivors Act

It's important to recognize that the misconduct covered by the city law is not identical to those acts covered by the state's Adult Survivors Act; in some ways, the city law is more expansive. Under the city law, the misconduct you endured need not have been a sexual offense. The city law covers most assaults perpetrated because of the victim's gender and the attacker's hostility toward the victim's gender. In other words, if you're a woman and a man punched you in the face and kicked you in the shins while calling you misogynistic slurs, that would be potentially actionable, even in the absence of any sort of sex crime, which was an essential element of an Adult Survivors Act claim.

The city law wisely recognizes that the criminal justice and civil justice systems are two separate avenues to seek justice. There are many reasons why a survivor might have a legitimate case even though the perpetrator was never prosecuted or convicted in criminal court. For those reasons, the city law allows a survivor to seek relief or hold an abuser to account financially even in the absence of any sort of past prosecution.

Holding Not Just Perpetrators But Also Conspirators and Enablers Accountable

Another vital benefit of the city law is its recognition that gender-motivated violence often doesn't happen in a vacuum. Frequently, the overt acts of gender-motivated violence that eventually take place were preceded by earlier events or "red flags" that one or more institutions or people may have downplayed, trivialized, ignored, or dismissed. In a circumstance like that, the city law allows a survivor to sue those parties. Specifically, the law says that a survivor of gender-motivated violence has a potential claim against any party "who commits, directs, enables, participates in, or conspires in the commission of" gender-motivated violence.

One example of that was the lawsuit against Saturday Night Live cast member Horatio Sanz. The lawsuit alleged that Sanz sexually assaulted the plaintiff, an intoxicated teenage girl, at an SNL after-party in 2002. The girl did not pursue Sanz alone for violating New York City's Gender-Motivated Violence law. Instead, the lawsuit named as liable parties (in addition to Sanz) NBC, SNL creator and producer Lorne Michaels, and three of Sanz's SNL castmates. The complaint asserted that NBC, Michaels, and the castmates were liable under the law because they enabled Sanz's sexual assault and battery by among, other things, providing girls and women like the plaintiff with alcohol and then "leaving them vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse by known predatory adults."

Regardless of your gender identification, you should be allowed to live your life free from gender-motivated violence, including sexual violence. If you have endured this sort of misconduct, be aware that various laws potentially can aid your pursuit of justice. Even if the window of opportunity has closed some of them (like the Adult Survivors Act,) that doesn't mean that you are at a dead end. Other legal options, like the city's Gender-Motivated Violence law, may allow you to hold those perpetrators accountable. Doing that in the most effective way possible involves many actions. One is to retain skilled legal representation. The zealous New York sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates are here to help survivors get justice. You can reach our diligent attorneys online or by calling (833) 529-3476 to set up a free and confidential consultation. Act today to get started and put the power of our team to work for you.

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