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American writer E. Jean Carroll filed a lawsuit against former US President Donald Trump in New York state, accusing him of raping her in the 1990s.
Carroll, 78, is at the forefront of the beneficiaries of the Adult Survivors Act, which took effect Thursday.
New York law gives victims one year to file a sexual assault claim, regardless of how long ago the assault occurred, and the statute of limitations.
Trump denies the charges against him.
Carroll claims the assault took place 27 years ago in the dressing room of a luxury department store in New York.
Under the Adult Survivors Act, victims have the right to file claims if they were sexually assaulted when they were over the age of 18, even if the time elapsed after the assault occurred exceeds the statute of limitations applicable to most crimes.
New York’s Adult Survivors Act follows the same state’s Child Victims Act for those who were sexually assaulted as minors.
The Child Victims Law became effective in 2019, and the law gives victims two years to file cases against their abusers.
Nearly 11,000 lawsuits have been filed in New York against churches, hospitals, schools, camps and other institutions.
Writer Carroll also filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, after the latter accused her of lying in her 2019 announcement that he had raped her. The former president described the author’s claims as “fiction.” The court is scheduled to rule on this case on the sixth of next February.
Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement that the lawsuit filed on Thursday seeks to hold Trump accountable for the charges against him.
Alina Haba, Trump’s attorney, said she respects and admires people who come forward and seek accountability, but “this case violates the intent of this legislation” and “risks undermining the credibility of the real victims.”
Others plan to file lawsuits under the new law in New York. This includes a class-action lawsuit against obstetrician and gynecologist Robert Hadden, who was practicing at Columbia University Hospitals in New York State.
Hadden is accused of sexually assaulting dozens of patients. The doctor was convicted in a New York court in 2016 on charges of sexual assault. But he pleaded not guilty to charges of molesting his female patients over two decades.
Advocates for survivors of sexual assault believe that the new legislation provides an opportunity for abusers to be held accountable to victims who were unable to disclose what they had been subjected to before due to psychological harm or fear of retaliation by the abusers.
And other US states, other than New York, have temporarily canceled the statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes, in the wake of the MeToo movement that launched in 2018.
Among those states: New Jersey, California, Arizona and Montana.