Emmett Caldwell, 62, alleged that a clergy member at St. Thomas the Apostle in Manhattan sexually abused him while he was in elementary school. After filing a claim with an independent compensation fund instituted by the Archdiocese of New York in 2016, he was told that $75,000 was the most that he could recover. Victims’ advocates have criticized the fund as a way to make cases settle quickly before the New York legislature acted on proposals to raise the statutes of limitation on abuse claims.
A proposed class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of Caldwell, claims that the Archdiocese of New York used this fund to deceive victims of sexual abuse into taking smaller sums than they would be entitled to under the new law. The suit was filed on February 14, 2019 in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan on the very same day that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act.
The Act, starting on August 14, 2019, expands the statute of limitations for both civil and criminal claims. Under the new law, victims have until the age of 55 to bring civil claims and the age of 28 to bring criminal claims. The Act also opens a one-year window for victims of sexual abuse to file claims regardless of their age. Previously, victims of childhood abuse could only bring criminal and civil claims up until the age of 23.