Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Flurry of lawsuits under adult survivors act roils entertainment and political circles

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Senior National
Correspondent

The clock struck midnight on the New York Adult Survivors of Sexual Assault statute, a law that opened a one year window for accusers to file a lawsuit against their alleged abusers. And when it was all said and done, more than 2,600 claims were filed, including some last-minute cases against Hollywood and music’s biggest names.

The state law, which opened on Thanksgiving 2022 and closed at midnight on Friday 2023, has allowed accusers from decades-old encounters to seek financial damages from those they said manipulated them, took advantage of their authority, raped, and otherwise sexually abused them.

Some of the earlier high-profile names were the twice-impeached and four-times criminally indicted former President Donald Trump, whom the writer E. Jean Carroll successfully sued in court this year. A jury found that Trump sexually assaulted Carroll in the 1990s and awarded her $5 million in damages.

 

The state law, which opened on Thanksgiving 2022, and closed at midnight on Thanksgiving this year, has allowed accusers from decades-old encounters to seek financial damages from those they said manipulated them, took advantage of their authority, raped, and otherwise sexually abused them. (Photo via NNPA)

A week before the midnight holiday deadline, the R&B singer Cassie Ventura sued Sean “Diddy” Combs for years of sexual abuse and a myriad of other damning accusations, and the two quickly reached a settlement in which one report claimed it netted Ventura $100 million. Before the deadline, Diddy was hit with another sexual assault lawsuit, as was Harve Pierre, the former president of Diddy’s Bad Boy Records, who is accused of preying on the Jane Doe plaintiff “on multiple occasions in New York City and other locations throughout the country,” according to a complaint filed in the New York County Supreme Court.

Actors Jamie Foxx and Cuba Gooding Jr. were among those to have allegations leveled against them. Entertainers such as Russell Brand, Marilyn Manson, and Harvey Weinstein were also hit with claims. Comedian Bill Cosby again faced allegations of sexual assault, while Guns N’ Roses front man Axl Rose was accused of a vicious assault in 1989. Photographer Terry Richardson and famed music producer L.A. Reid were also served with legal documents from accusations dating back to 2004.

Record mogul Jimmy Iovine, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York State Sen. Kevin Parker, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams were among the many others accused by women of assaulting them in lawsuits filed this week under the Adult Survivors Act, signed into law by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul in May 2022.

The Adult Survivors Act has evolved from the Child Victims Act, enacted in 2019, which gave individuals abused as minors a “lookback window” to file claims. Hochul noted that the Child Victims Act had overlooked many individuals, prompting the introduction of the Adult Survivors Act. The sheer volume and variety of allegations underscored the seismic impact of the legislation and its role in giving a voice to survivors who claim to have long felt unheard.

Still, most of those accused issued public statements denying the allegations. “Diddy, LA Reid, Steven Tyler, and now they circle back to this,” Cosby spokesperson Andrew Wyatt said. “When is it going to stop?”

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